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'VI drastic social revolution, "tjip ntafi^vc 
pressures everywhere in Latin 'America for 
nodal justice, the cold war, and an extraor- 
dinary young man have given the Cuban 
Revolution an importance itnequaled by any 
event in the Western Hemisphere since the 
Wars o[ Independence" 


It is doubtful If any American today has a 
more comprehensive understanding of the 
Cuban Revolution and of what Fidelismo 
means in terms of our over-all relations with 
Uitin America than Herbert L. Matthews, 
noted correspondent, a New York Times edi- 
tor* and author of "one of the most important 
l?ookM on modern Hpain" THK YOKK AND 

'MournaHsts," Mr. Matthews nays, "rarely 
make history; at bent we provide material 
for history, It was an accident that my inter- 
view with Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maootra 
on February 17, 19f>7 should have proved 
so Important. There wan a story to bo got, a 
eei worship to be broken, I got it and I did it 

and it so hapju'as that iwilbrr (\iba nor 
the UniUni SlaJr;; us tfointf to be the name 

1*111-; (UtftAN STORY telln why this is no. If, 
like Itw book on Hpitin, it is "pewonal in the 
twHt newwpap<T wnsts*" there is no mote 
forthright and truthful way it roukl have 
Invn written* When Mr, Muithews broken the 
BfttJjMtJi cKwpira<*y trf nilenco about (/astro 
and hw guerrilla lighters, wh<n what he, said 
wu' itrwng U* take place actually inappeiitd 
(ctuitttutcd <>a back flap) 

JVu'/.vf Ih'Mf.H I Willwm tttn 1 t'li'tline Ifarnn 


Cuban grtory 


Kansas city public library 

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Please report lost cards and 

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Books by Herbert L. Matthews 

The Cuban Story (1961) 

The Yoke and the Arrows ( 1956; revised edition, 1961 ) 
Assignment to Austerity (with Nantie Matthews) ( 1950 ) 

The Education of a Correspondent ( 1946) 
The Fruits of Fascism (1943) 

Two Wars and More to Come ( 1938) 

Eyewitness in Abyssinia (1937) 

Herbert L. Matthews 

The Cuban Story 


NEW YORK 1961 

19S1 btj Herbert I. Matthews 

All rights reserved. 

For information, address the publisher; 

George Braziller, Inc. 
215 Furk Avomw South 

New York 3, N. Y. 

of Congress Catalog Card Number: 

The quotation on page 137 from Eric Sevardd's t'ohmm in 
the New York Post is used with (lie pcamiission of lle Hal! 

Syndicate, Inc. 


Trbtfed in the United S fates af America 

To Eric and Bobbie 

Acknowledgment is due, as always, to The New 
York Times in whose service all my information 
was gatJwred. Some material from a series of 
three lectures for the Third Annual Lectures in 
History at the City College of New York in March, 
1961, to also been used. 


ONE ; The Siena Maestra Story 15 

TWO : The Insurrection 45 

TBBEE ; The Revolution 89 

FOUK : Fidel Castro 133 

FIVE : The Hemisphere 185 

six : The United States 231 

SEVEN : Journalism 281 

Index 313 



The Sierra Maestra Story 

JOURNALISTS BARELY make history. This is not our function. 
We are the chroniclers of our times; at best we provide 
material for history. 

It was an accident that my interview with Fidel Castro 
in the Sierra Maestra on February 17, 1957, should have 
proved so important. There was .a story to be got, a cen- 
sorship to be broken. 1 got it and I did it and it so hap- 
pens that neither Cuba nor the United States is going to 
be the same again. 

I am not accepting, for myself or for The New Jork 
Time* either blame or credit for having started Fidel 
Castro on his meteoric rise to fame and power. He was a 
man of destiny who would somehow have made his mark, 
sooner or later. Cuba was ripe for revolution. 

The United States had a reckoning to pay for past 
policies. What Adlai Stevenson had called **the revolution 
of rising expectations" was exerting dangerous pressures 



throughout Latin America, And the world was ready to 
come in on us, on our Western Hemisphere, safe for so 
long, still untouched by the cold war, 
A bell tolled in the jungles of the Sierra Macstra that 

gray, sodden dawn, but how or why should a newspaper- 
man, out after a scoop, know it? 

I have never done a story that gave me more profes- 
sional satisfaction. From die technical point of view, all I 
claim credit for is having interpreted what 1 saw and heard 
correctly, for having realized that the extraordinary young 
man pouring his heart out to me in whispers for three 
hours was the one around whom the hopes and passions 
of Cuba would gather to a flood tide of victory, 

Fidel Castro has flair. He needed publicity in the strict 
sense of calling public attention to himself, Having studied 
his country's history he must have known the remarkable 
use to which the Cuban rebel General Mdximo G6xnez 
had put the attention he was able to get from the Amer- 
ican newspapers in the insurrection of 139*5-98. "Without 
a press we shall get nowhere/' General G6mez had said. 
With a press he got American intervention* 

Without a press Fidel Castro was a hunted outlaw, lead- 
ing a small band of youths in a remote jungle area of 
eastern Cuba, Isolated and ineffectual. He was believed 
to be dead by most Cubans (even General Batista thought 
him dead) and none except a small group in his 26th of 
July Movement could be sure that he was alive* 

His band was surrounded by Government troops. There 
was a rigid censorship. The odds against the rebels scorned 
insuperable, but Fidel Castro was never dismayed by 



odds. Look at him today, confidently embarked on a war 
to the finish with the United States 1 He has a supreme 
faith in himself, only himself. 

He had landed at a swampy stretch of the western 
coast of Oriente Province, below Niquero, with eighty- 
one men, on December 2, 1956. The leaky sixty-two-foot 
yacht, Granma, had sailed from Mexico eight days before. 
( The true spelling of the name was "Granma" but it was 
always pronounced and usually spelled "Gramma.") The 
departure was hasty, for the Mexican authorities were 
after him. There was little food; the boat which could 
comfortably accommodate no more than a dozen men- 
was dreadfully overcrowded; the Granma's engines were 

Everything seemed to go wrong. It had been arranged 
that his 26th of July followers in Santiago de Cuba would 
rise on November 30, the day Fidel and his band were 
supposed to land. There was a brave, but of course, futile 
uprising on November 30, with Fidel far out to sea. 

In a typically flamboyant gesture, Fidel had announced 
that lie was coming before the end of the year, so Batista's 
men were on the lookout for him. The yacht could not be 
unloaded in the swampy ground and all the equipment 
was lost, 

The eighty-two men landed safely, but only a dozen, 
including Fidel, his younger brother, Raul Castro, and 
the Argentine doctor who had joined them in Mexico, 
Ernesto ( Che ) Guevara, escaped into the mountain jungle 
whose name is now so famous the Sierra Maestra. It took 



a Fidel Castro to convert such a complete disaster into a 

It was given outand widely believed that Fidel, him- 
self, had been killed. The United Press even had told 
where he was burled, and stuck to its story until my inter- 
view was published months later. 

For the Cuban people, Fidel was a myth, a legend, a 
hope, but not a reality. He had to come to life, and like 
General Gomez, he must have been saying to himself, 
"without a press we shall get nowhere/' 

Toward the last week of January, 1957, a survivor of the 
eighty-two, Ren6 Rodriguez, arrived in Havana with a 
message for the acting chief of the 20th of July Movement 
in the capital, Faustino F6rez. Rodriguez said that Fidel 
would like to see a foreign correspondent not a Cuban 
correspondent, for the censorship was on, and Fidel never 
trusted the Cuban, press, anyway* 

A Havana University student leader was present at the 
meetibag Javier P&zos, son of Felipe Puzos, economist, 
banker and a former president of the National Bank of 
Cuba. (Father and son are examples of the best type of 
Cuban citizen and patriot, The father has for many months 
been one of the Cuban exile leaders seeking to overthrow 
the Castro regime; the son remained a loyal Fidelista. } 

Rodriguez's instructions did not contain concrete de- 
tails as to the way a meeting could be arranged* Fidel was 
to send further instructions, because his situation in the 
Sierra at that time was so precarious that he* himself, did 
not foaow how he would be able to manage the interview. 
It was typical of Fidel that he first decided what he 



wanted to do and then had no doubts that he would do it, 
however impossible it seemed. 

Faustino Perez delegated Javier Pazos to make the 
necessary contacts, and since Javier's father was already 
actively cooperating with the 26th of July Movement, the 
son sought his help. The only foreign correspondent Felipe 
Pazos knew personally was Mrs. R. Hart (Ruby) Phillips 
of The New Jork Times, He went to see her at the Times 
office on Refugio Alto and explained his problem. 

From that moment, the lives of a certain number of 
Cubans were in the hands of Ruby Phillips and a little 
later, of me and my wife Nancie. Edward (Ted) Scott of 
the Havana Times and the National Broadcasting Com- 
pany was consulted the first day by Ruby, as he shared 
the Times office and was knowledgeable and discreet. 

*1 must say that this was one of the best projects I have 
ever been informed of, with respect to security," Ted 
Scott wrote me long afterwards. "I am sure you did not 
know that I was informed of what was going on and no 
one else in Ruby*s organization knew what you and 
Nancie were conspiring to do. 

"I saw you minutes before you left for the hills and said 
'Buen viajer or something like that. I remember you and 
Nancie looking quickly at each other as if to say, "What 
does the fat bastard mean by that? Does he know what 
we are doing?* " 

Americans had no conception in those last two years 
of the Batista dictatorship of the fierceness and viciousness 
with which the General was fighting back against the 
terrorism and the rising wave of revolutionary opposition* 



Death for plotters was not only the normal rale; in cases 
like this torture always came first, since the police would 
want to extract whatever information they could get. It 
was going to be necessary to exercise the utmost discretion 
and to keep down to an absolute minimum those who 
knew anything about the venture. 

The last place to get the slightest inkling of what was 
happening had to be the American Embassy, whose Am- 
bassador, Arthur Gardner, was closely identified and very 
friendly with the dictator, President Fulgencio Batista. 
Except for Cuban Government circles and the American 
and Cuban business community, Gardner was hated by 
the Cubans, No word, therefore, was breathed about the 
project to him or to any member of the Embassy staff. In 
fact, the only foreigners who knew anything about the 
project were Ruby and Ted, until the story broke in The 
Times. The only Cubans let in on it were those who took 
an active part in organizing and carrying through the 
plan. Knowing Cubans as I did, it was a miracle that the 
secret was kept and the elaborate project carried off with- 
out a hitch. 

On the journalistic side, this was an operation that had 
to be done by an outsider coming in to get the story and 
going out to write it. This eliminated Ruby and Ted, who 
were resident correspondents. By coincidence, I had writ- 
ten Ted telling him that my wife and I were going to 
Havana in a few weeks. I had been getting reports of con- 
siderable ferment and discontent, and was intrigued by 
the mystery of Fidel Castro, whose name kept cropping 
up in persistent reports that he was not dead, as the Gov- 


eminent had announced and everybody seemed to believe. 

Fidel had been a heroic figure, especially for the youth 
o Cuba, ever since the suicidal attack he had led on the 
Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba on July 26, 1953. 
It was from this incident that the 26th of July Movement 
got its name. 

A message from Ruby Phillips to Emanuel R. Freedman, 
our Foreign Editor, simply suggesting that I get to Havana 
as soon as possible, took me and Nancie down there in a 
few days. Ruby had had a talk in Felipe Pazos' office with 
Ren6 Rodriguez, who was attended by two fierce-looking 
bodyguards. Javier Pazos and Faustino P6rez, who was 
being hunted by the police, were also present. 

The day after our arrival I had a meeting in the Times 
office with Felipe Pazos and his son. I asked Felipe in 1960 
to give me his recollections of the whole incident. In con- 
nection with our first meeting he wrote: 

"I remember your asking me whether I had met Fidel, 
whether I believed him alive and what did I think of the 
contention that Fidel had abandoned his men at Moncada, 
fleeing for his life. My answers were no to the first and 
third, and yes to the second. I remember telling you that 
I had been strongly inclined to believe in his death (in 
spite of the personal testimony of Faustino P&rez to the 
contrary: I thought him sworn with all the others to hide 
the truth) and that the first convincing indication I had 
had of his being alive, which I now believed, was the 
message that he wanted to see a foreign correspondent, 
With regard to the story of his betraying his men at Mon- 
cada, I told you that if he had done this, he would not 


have kept the fanatical loyalty that he seemed to inspire 
in his men. 

**After that, I asked whether you would send for some- 
one from New York, and you answered that you, yourself, 

would go. Without sufficient care not to show my surprise, 
I asked whether you were apt at mountain climbing, and 
you just repeated dryly, but softly, that you would go."* 

As if any newspaperman would pass up an opportunity 
like that! Felipe Pazos could not have known what makes 
a journalist tick, A newspaperman who will run a big risk 
for a mediocre story is a fool; one who will not run a big 
risk for a big story should go into the public relations 

The account was picked up at this point by Javier 
Pazos, who likewise wrote me his recollections in 1960* 
A name comes in here which was not mentioned before 
Liliam Mesa, The young, attractive Liliam, who comes 
from a well-to-do, upper class Havana family, was a 
fanatical member of the 26th of July Movement, typical of 
the young women who risked and sometimes lost their 
lives in the insurrection. The extent to which the women 
of Cuba were caught up in the passion of the rebellion 
was extraordinary, for like aH Latin women they were 
brought up to sheltered, non-public and non-political 
lives. Liliam posed as Faustino's wife on our trip to Oriente 
Province. We baew them simply as "Luis" and "Marta." 

"More or less coinciding with these events,** Javier Pazos 
wrote, "another messenger had come from ManzaniUo 
requesting Faustino's presence in the Sierra and giving the 
date on which the interview would take place, plus the 


necessary contacts in ManzamUo. For the first time since 
he had landed, due to the disposition of Batista's troops 
and the revolutionary organization of the Manzanillo zone, 
Fidel was in a position to hold a meeting with aU the 
national leaders of the revolutionary movement. He thus 
wanted to use this opportunity for, besides seeing the 
foreign correspondent, a talk for the first time since he had 
landed with Frank Pais Garcia, Faustino P6rez, Armando 
Hart, Vilma Espin and Hayd^e Santamaria, on questions 
concerning the general strategy of the movement. 

"After I saw you, the coordination of everything else 
was very simple. Faustino had only to mate sure that some 
arms we had just received were properly hidden and we 
would leave by car (Liliam Mesa, Faustino and I) start- 
ing from his hide-out, picking up you and your wife at the 
Sevilla Bfltmore Hotel and continuing to Manzanillo. My 
presence was due, primarily, to the fact that Faustino 
wanted me to help him convince Fidel that a second front 
be opened in Las Villas province with the armament we 
had just received in La Habana. This was later discarded 
because of the more realistic necessity of re-enforcing 
Fidel's troop with everything the movement could afford. 
I must confess that within myself, I had doubts about 
Fidel's presence in the Sierra until we saw him/* 

Nancie and I had been told to stand by on Thursday 
and Friday February 14 and 15. The precise time Javier 
called me at the office and told me to get ready in an hour 
was five thirty on Friday afternoon. The moment was 
fixed, when we looked back afterwards by my wife, who 
remembered that she had started to do her hair when I 



called and had to stop. From the beginning I had had the 
idea of taking Nancie along as "camouflage," 

At the hotel I told them we were going on a fishing trip, 
and I had bought suitable clothes for such a purpose. At 
the office. Ruby told her two Cuban assistants that we 
were going to Santiago de Cuba for a few days to see 
what the situation was like at the other end of the island. 

All I knew was that the rendezvous with Fidel Castro 
had been fixed for midnight the next night in the Sierra 
Maestra. I knew who Javier Pazos was, but aside from 
that I did not ask, nor did I want to know, the names of 
any of the Cubans who were risking their lives to take me 
to Fidel It was not until after we started that I even 
knew our destination and jumping-off point in Oriente 
Province Manzanillo. 

Nancie wrote an account of the trip for The New Yorfc 
Times house organ for March, 1957 Times Talk. This is 
how it went from Havana to Manzanillo: 

I should have remembered that most Cubans, however 
gloriously brave, are consistently unpunctuaL It was almost 
ten o'clock that bright moonlight night before we started. The 
delay gave us our last chance for a pair of frozen daiquiries at 
the Floridita and some delicious More crab, a combination to 
stouten a timorous heart. My queasiness changed to excited 

I will call our young companions Juan [Javier Pacos] and 
Paco [Faustmo P6rez]. Paco had brought his wife, Marta 
[Liliam Mesal, to do part of the driving, Marta and Juan sang 
an international repertoire of songs. 

Herbert had told me that the utmost discretion was neces* 
sary, but in the sixteen hows our journey took we stopped so 


many times for thirnblefuls of Cuban coffee that a long trail 
of people had every chance to examine us in detail. By 5 A.M. 
we were cold. I was hideously depressed. 

As day broke we were well into Oriente Province and the 
sugar country. We decided to breakfast in a large town 
( Camaguey there are about two million people in Oriente 
Province), Marta, driving, had no sense of direction. She 
circled the same handsome, pleasant policeman three times 
to ask him the way to a good hotel. That charming girl, I 
thought, is a dangerous wife for a revolutionary. Caf6 au lait, 
fresh rolls and the warmth of the sun gave us all the lift we 
needed as we approached the Sierras and the troop road blocks 
we knew would come. 

My heart missed a beat as a soldier stepped into the road 
and signaled us to stop, but he merely peered at us in friendly 
fashion. One look at the white chimney-pot hat put on to cover 
the wreck of my hair and we were waved on. "The absolute 
dope/' I exclaimed, feeling almost let down. Juan shrugged. 
'Why should they care?" 

We now ran parallel to the Sierra Maestra a fine fertile 
country. At the next road block, soldiers were searching a 
car. Now, I thought, one examination of Herbert's passport 
marked "Journalist" and we will at least be turned back. But 
we were not stopped then or at any other patrol point. It was 
after 2 P.M. February 16, when we got there [ManzanxUo]. 
For obvious reasons I cannot say where or what house, nor 
could Pace for a while. We circled and circled. Paco seemed 
to shrink into himself, speechless. He would point a finger in 
some direction, now and again, to the bewildered Marta. No 
one dared ask directions. I didn't know until later that Paco 
was one of the eighty-one youths who had landed with Fidel 
Castro in the yacht, Gramma, from Mexico on December 2. 

I dare not give too many details, but after an agonizing hunt 
we located the preliminary rendezvous. We found ourselves 
surrounded by the kind of men and women you might meet 


at any Cuban tea party. Incongruously, someone asked me in 
English if 1 wanted my dress pressed. 

Our hosts in Manzanillo could not keep their names 

secret from us since they were known to everyone in town. 
They were Pedro and Ena Sauxnel, both teachers, and 
both typical of the middle-class intellectuals who made 
the Cuban Revolution as they have made all modem social 
revolutions since France in 1789. 

There was an irritating wait of some hours at the 
Saumels* little house, where I was to leave Nancie over- 
night. It gave me a chance to rest and, being fifty-seven 
years old at the time and having been up all night in the 
drive from Havana, a rest was useful. Others from the 
26th of July Movement were gathering in ManzanUlo, 
some from Santiago de Cuba. They were intent on their 
own purposes and, in fact, most of them went off during 
the afternoon to join Fidel ? leaving me behind. Javier was 
upset, fortunately for me. The young man who was to 
drive us to the foot of die mountains in his jeep, a resident 
of the neighborhood named Felipe Guerra Matos (Guer- 
rita, he was called) was balky. 

1 was very disturbed with the organization of the 
whole thing in Manzanillo^ Javier wrote in his letter to 
me, c< and being very conscious of the importance of your 
seeing Fidel, thought the merry way in which everybody 
else went in on the first trip leaving us in Manzanillo 
quite irresponsible. Later when Guerrita arrived he called 
me apart to tell me we had to wait till the next day be- 
cause army patrols had been stationed in the road we had 



to take. I had a discussion with him telling him that I 
didn't care how we got there, but that I knew die only 
excuse Fidel would accept for our not going on that day 
was our getting killed trying. Finally, he unwillingly 
agreed to take us. The other thing that had me upset, was 
the presence of Ren6 Rodriguez and LiHam, with whom I 
must agree I acted very harshly, stopping her from going. 
I didn't want you to get the impression that it was a 
country fair; as things go, next day she was right up there 
with us/* 

We got off at about seven o'clock in the evening of Feb- 
ruary 16 and I was back at the Saumels* house about five 
o'clock the next afternoon. 

This is the story, complete and word for word, that I 
wrote for The Times. It appeared on Sunday, February 24, 
1957, as the first of three articles on the Cuban situation. 

Fidel Castro, the rebel leader of Cuba's youth, is alive and 
fighting hard and successfully in the rugged, almost im- 
penetrable fastnesses of the Sierra Maestra, at the southern tip 
of the island. 

President Fulgencio Batista has the cream of his Army 
around the area, but the Army men are fighting a thus-far 
losing battle to destroy the most dangerous enemy General 
Batista has yet faced in a long and adventurous career as a 
Cuban leader and dictator. 

This is the first sure news that Fidel Castro is still alive and 
still in Cuba. No one connected with the outside world, let 
alone with the press, has seen Senor Castro except this writer. 
No one in Havana, not even at the United States Embassy 
with all its resources for getting information, will know until 
this report is published that Fidel Castro is really in the Sierra 



This account, among other things, will break the tightest 
censorship in the history of the Cuban Republic. The Province 
of Oriente, with its 2,000,000 inhabitants, its flourishing cities 
such as Santiago, Holguin and Manzanillo, is shut off from 
Havana as surely as if it were another country. Havana does 
not and cannot know that thousands of men and women are 
heart and soul with Fidel Castro and the new deal for which 
they think lie stands. It does not know that hundreds of highly 
respected citizens are helping Senor Castro, that bombs and 
sabotage are constant (eighteen bombs were exploded in 
Santiago on February 15), that a fierce Government counter- 
terrorism has aroused the people even more against President 

Throughout Cuba a formidable movement of opposition to 
General Batista has been developing. It has by no means 
reached an explosive point. The rebels in the Sierra Maestra 
cannot move out. The economic situation is good. President 
Batista has the high officers of the Army and the police behind 
him and he ought to be able to hang on for the nearly two 
years of his present term that are still left. 

However, there are bad spots in the economy, especially on 
the fiscal side. Unemployment is heavy; corruption is rife, No 
one can predict anything with safety except that Cuba seems 
in for a very troubled period. 

Fidel Castro and his 26th of July Movement are the flaming 
symbol of the opposition to the regime. The organization, 
which is apart from the university students* opposition, is 
formed of youths of all kinds, It is a revolutionary movement 
that calls itself socialistic. It is also nationalistic, which gen- 
erally in Latin America means anti-Yankee. 

The program is vague and couched in generalities, but it 
amounts to a new deal for Cuba, radical, democratic and there- 
fore anti-Communist The real core of its strength is that it is 
fighting against the military dictatorship of President Batista. 

To arrange for me to penetrate the Siexra Maestra and meet 



Fidel Castro, dozens of men and women in Havana and Ori- 
ente Province ran a truly terrible risk. They must, of course, 
be protected with the utmost care in these articles for their 
lives would be forfeit after the customary torture immedi- 
ately if any could be traced. Consequently, no names are used 
here, the places are disguised and many details of the elaborate 
and dangerous trail in and out of the Sierra Maestra must be 
omitted, * 

From the looks of things, General Batista cannot possibly 
hope to suppress the Castro revolt. His only hope is that an 
Army column will come upon the young rebel leader and his 
staff and wipe them out. This is hardly likely to happen, if at 
all, before March 1, when the present suspension of constitu- 
tional guarantees is supposed to end, 

Fidel Castro is the son of a Spaniard from Galicia, a "Gal- 
lego" like Generalissimo Francisco Franco. The father was a 
pick-and-shovel laborer early in this century for the United 
Fruit Company, whose sugar plantations are on the northern 
shores of Oriente Province. A powerful build, a capacity for 
hard work and a shrewd mind led the father up in the world 
until he became a rich sugar planter himself. When he died 
last year each of his children, including Fidel, inherited a 
sizable fortune. 

Someone who knew the family remembers Fidel as a child 
of four or five years living a sturdy farm life. The father sent 
him to school and to the University of Havana, where he 
studied law and became one of the student opposition leaders 
who rebelled against General Batista in 1952 because the 
General had staged a garrison revolt and prevented the Presi- 
dential elections of that year. 

Fidel had to flee from Cuba in 1954 and he lived for a 
while in New York and Miami. The year 1956, he announced, 
was to be the "year of decision." Before the year ended, he 
said, he would be "a hero or a martyr." 

The Government knew that he had gone to Mexico and, 



last summer, was training a body of youths who had left Cuba 
to join Mm. As the end of the year approached the Cuban 
Army was very much on the alert, knowing that something 
would be tried and that Fidel Castxo was coming back. He 
was already, in a measure, a hero of die Cuban- youth, for on 
July 26, 1953, he had led a band of youths in a desperate 
attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de 'Cuba. 

In the fighting then about 100 students and soldiers were 
killed., but the revolt failed. The Archbishop of Santiago, 
Monsenor Enrique P&ez Serantes, intervened to minimize the 
bloodshed and got Senor Castxo and others to surrender on 
promises of a fair trial. Fidel Castro was sentenced to fifteen 
years in prison but there was an amnesty _at the time of the 
Presidential elections of November 1, 1954, and ho was let 
out. It was then he crossed to the continent and began to 
organize the 26th of July Movement It is under this banner 
that the youth of Cuba are now fighting the Batista regime. 

The blow, which at the time seemed an utter failure, was 
struck on December 2 ? 1956, That day a 62-foot diesel-en- 
gined yacht, the Gramma, landed eighty-two young men, 
trained for two months on a ranch in Mexico, on the Oricnto 
shore below Niquero at a spot called Haya Olorado. The Idea 
had been to land at Niquero, recruit followers and lead an 
open attack against the Government. However, the Gramma 
had been spotted by a Cuban naval patrol boat. Planes flew 
in to strafe and the men on the yacht decided to beach her. 

Playa Olorado, unhappily for the invaders, was a treacher- 
ous swamp. The men lost their food and most of their arms 
and supplies and soon were being attacked by army units. 
They scattered and took to the hills* Many were killed. Of 
the eighty-two no more than fifteen or twenty were left after 
a few days. 

President Batista and his aides were remarkably successful 
from then on in hiding what happened. The youths they cap- 
tured were forced to sign statements saying tbat they had 


been told Fidel Castro was on the Gramma with them but that 
they had never seen him. Thus doubt was cast that lie had 
ever come to Cuba. 

Because of the complete censorship, Havana and the other 
Cuban cities crackle with the most astonishing rumors; one 
constantly encouraged by the Government has been that Fidel 
Castro is dead. Only those fighting with him and those who 
had faith and hope knew or thought he was aliveand those 
who knew were very few and in the utmost peril of their lives 
if their knowledge was traced. 

This was the situation when the writer got to Havana on 
February 9 to try to find out what was really happening. The 
censorship has been applied to foreign correspondents as well 
as Cuban. What everybody, even those who wanted to believe, 
kept asking was: "If Fidel is aKve, why does he not do or say 
something to show that he is?' Since December 2 he had kept 
absolutely quiet or he was dead. 

As I learned later, Sefior Castro was waiting until he had 
his forces reorganized and strengthened and had mastery of 
the Sierra Maestra. This fortunately coincided with my arrival 
and he had sent word out to a trusted source in Havana that 
he wanted a foreign correspondent to come in. The contact 
knew as soon as I arrived and got in touch with me. Because 
of tihe state of siege, it had to be someone who would get the 
story and go out of Cuba to write it 

Then came a week of organization. A rendezvous point and 
a time had to be fixed and arrangements made to get through 
the Government lines into the Sierra Maestra. 

After the first few weeks the Army had given out the re- 
port that the remnants of Sefior Castro's forces were being 
starved out in the Sierra. In reality the Army had ringed the 
Sierra with fortified posts and columns of troops and had every 
road under heavy guard. The reports reaching Havana that 
frequent clashes were taking place and that the Government 
troops were losing heavily proved true. 



The first problem was to get through the Government road 
blocks and reach a nearby town that would be a jumping off 
place. Late on the afternoon of Friday, February 15j Senor 
Castro's contact man got in touch with me in Havana with 
the news that the meeting was set for the following night in 
the Sierra and that Senor Castro and his staff would take the 
chance of coming a little way toward the edge of the range 
so that I would not have to do too much climbing. There are 
no roads there, and where we were to meet, no horses could 

To get from Havana to Oriente (more than 500 miles away) 

on time meant driving all night and the next morning, so as 
to be ready Saturday afternoon to start for the Sierra. 

The plan worked out to get through the Army^s road blocks 
in Oriente was as simple as it was effective. We took my wife 
along in the car as "camouflage." Cuba is at the height of the 
tourist season and nothing could have looked more innocent 
than a middle-aged couple of American tourists driving down 
to Cuba's most beautiful and fertile province with some young 
friends. The guards would take one look at my wife, hesitate 
a second, and wave us on with friendly smiles. If we were to 
be questioned a story was prepared for them. If we were 
searched the jig would be up* 

In that way we reached the house of a sympathizer of 
Senor Castro outside the Sierra, There my wife was to stay 
amid warm hospitality, and no questions asked* I got into the 
clothes I had purchased in Havana "for a fishing trip/' warm 
for the cold night air of die mountains and dark for camou- 

After nightfall I was taken to a certain house where three 
youths who were going in with me had gathered. One of them 
was "One of the Eighty-two," a proud phrase for the sur* 
vivors of the original landing, I was to meet five or six of 
them. A courier who owned an open Army-type jeep, joined us. 

His news was bad. A Government patrol of four soldiers in 



a jeep had placed itself on the very road we had to take to get 
near the point where we were to meet the Castro scouts at 
midnight. Moreover, there had been a heavy rain in the Sierra 
in the afternoon and the road was a morass. The others im- 
pressed on him that Fidel Castro wanted me in there at all 
costs and somehow it had to be done. 

The courier agreed reluctantly. All across the plain of Oriente 
Province there are flat lands with sugar and rice plantations, 
and such farms have innumerable dirt roads. The courier knew 
every inch of the terrain and figured that by taking a very cir- 
cuitous route he could bring us close enough. 

We had to go through one Army road block and beyond that 
would be the constant risk of Army patrols, so we had to have 
a good story ready. I was to be an American sugar planter who 
could not speak a word of Spanish and who was going out to 
look over a plantation in a certain village. One of the youths, 
who spoke English, was my "interpreter." The others made up 
similar fictions. 

Before leaving one of the men showed me a wad of bills 
(the Cuban peso is exactly the same size and value as the 
United States dollar) amounting, apparently, to 400 pesos, 
which was being sent in to Senor Castro. With a "rich" Amer- 
ican planter it would be natural for the group to have the 
money if we were searched. It was interesting evidence that 
Fidel Castro paid for everything he took from the guajiros, or 
squatter farmers, of the Sierra. 

Our story convinced the Army guard when he stopped us, 
although he looked dubious for a little while. Then came hours 
of driving, through sugar-cane and rice fields, across rivers 
that only jeeps could manage. One stretch, the courier said, 
was heavily patrolled by Government troops but we were 
lucky and saw none. Finally, after slithering through miles of 
mud we could go no farther. 

It was then midnight, the time we were to meet Castro's 
scouts; but we had to walk some first and it was hard going. 



At last we turned off the road and slid down a hillside to where 
a stream, dark brown under the nearly full moon,, rushed its 
muddy way. One of the boys slipped and fell full length into 
the Icy cold water. I waded through with the water almost 
to my knees and that was hard enough to do without falling. 
Fifty yards up the other slope was the meeting point 

The patrol was not there. Three of us waited while two 
of the men went back to see if we had missed the scouts 
somewhere, but in fifteen minutes they returned frustrated. 
The courier suggested that we might move up a bit and he led 
us ahead, but obviously did not know where to go. Senor 
Castro's men have a characteristic signal that I was to hear 
incessantly two low, soft, toneless whistles. One of our men 
kept trying it, but with no success. 

After a while we gave up. We had kept under cover at all 
times, for the moonlight was strong, and we knew there were 
troops around us. 

We stopped in a heavy clump of trees and bushes, dripping 
from the rain, the ground underfoot heavily matted, muddy 
and soaked* There we sat for a whispered confab. The courier, 
and another youth who had fought previously with Castro, 
said they would go up the mountainside and see if they could 
find any of the rebel troops. 

Three of us were to wait, a rather agonizing wait of more 
than two hours, crouched in the mud, not daring to talk or 
move, trying to snatch a little sleep with our heads on our 
knees and annoyed maddeningly by the swarms of mos- 
quitoes that were having the feast of their lives. 

At last we heard a cautious, welcome double-whistle. One 
of us replied in kind and this had to be kept up for a while, 
like two groups meeting in a dense fog, until we got together. 
One of our party had found an advance patrol and a scout 
came with him to lead us to an outpost in the mountains. 

The scout was a squatter from the hills, and he needed to 
know every inch of the land to take us as he did, swiftly and 



unerringly across fields, up steep hills, floundering in the mud. 

The ground leveled out blessedly at last and then dipped 
suddenly. The scout stopped and whistled cautiously. The 
return whistle came. There was a short parley and we were 
motioned on, sliding down into a heavy grove. The dripping 
leaves and boughs, the dense vegetation, the mud underfoot, 
the moonlight all gave the impression of a tropical forest, 
more like Brazil than Cuba. 

Senor Castro was encamped some distance away and a 
soldier went to announce our arrival and ask whether he would 
join us or we should join him. Later he came back with the 
grateful news that we were to wait and Fidel would come 
along with the dawn. Someone gave me a few soda crackers, 
which tasted good. Someone else stretched a blanket on the 
ground and it seemed a great luxury. It was too dark in the 
grove to see anything. 

We spoke in the lowest possible whispers. One man told me 
how he had seen his brother's store wrecked and burned by 
Government troops and his brother dragged out and executed. 
"Yd rather be here fighting for Fidel, than anywhere in the 
world now/* he said 

There were two hours before dawn, and the blanket made 
it possible to sleep. 

With the light I could see how young they aU were. Senor 
Castro, according to his followers, is thirty, and that is old 
for the 26th of July Movement It has a motley array of arms 
and uniforms, and even a few civilian suits. The rifles and the 
one machine gun I saw were all Americandiscarded models. 

The captain of this troop was a stocky Negro with a black 
beard and mustache, a ready brilliant smile and a willingness 
for publicity. Of all I met, only he wanted his name men- 
tionedJuan Ameda [Almeida], **0ne of the Eighty-two." 

Several of the youths had lived in the United States and 
spoke English; others had learned it at school. One had been 



a professional baseball player in a minor league and his wife 
is still in the United States. 

The part of the Sierra we were in grows no food. "Sometimes 
we eat; sometimes not/' one rebel said. On the whole they 
obviously keep healthy. Supporters send in food; the farmers 
help, trusted couriers go out and buy supplies, which the 
storekeepers sell them at great risk and against Government 

Raul Castro, Fidel's younger brother, slight and pleasant, 
came into the camp with others of the staff, and a few minutes 
later Fidel himself strode in. Taking him, as one would at first, 
by physique and personality, this was quite a mana powerful 
six-footer, olive-skinned, full-faced, witii a straggly beard. He 
was dressed in an olive gray fatigue uniform and carried a 
rifle with a telescopic sight, of which he was very proud. It 
seems his men have something more than fifty of these and 
he said the soldiers feared them. 

*We can pick them off at a thousand yards with these 
guns," he said. 

After some general conversation we went to my blanket and 
sat down. Someone brought tomato juice, ham sandwiches 
made with crackers and tins of coffee. In honor of the occa- 
sion, Senor Castro broke open a box of good Havana cigars 
and for the next three hours we sat there while he talked* 

No one could talk above a whisper at any time. There were 
columns of Government troops all around us, Senor Castro said, 
and their one hope was to catch him and his band. 

The personality of the man is overpowering. It was easy to 
see that his men adored him and also to see why he has caught 
the imagination of the youth of Cuba all over the island* Here 
was an educated, dedicated fanatic, a man of ideals, of courage 
and of remarkable qualities of leadership* 

As the story unfolded of how he had at first gathered the 
few remnants of the Eighty-two around him; kept the Govern- 
ment troops at bay while youths came in from other parts of 



Oriente as General Batista's counter-terrorism aroused them; 
got arms and supplies and then began the series of raids and 
counter-attacks of guerrilla warfare, one got a feeling that he is 
now invincible. Perhaps he isn't, but that is the faith he in- 
spires in his followers. 

They have had many fights > and inflicted many losses, Senor 
Castro said. Government planes came over and bombed every 
day; in fact, at nine sharp a plane did fly over. The troops took 
up positions; a man in a white shirt was hastily covered up. 
But the plane went on to bomb higher in the mountains. 

Castro is a great talker. His brown eyes flash; his intense 
face is pushed close to the listener and the whispering voice, 
as in a stage play, lends a vivid sense of drama. 

"We have been fighting for seventy-nine days now and are 
stronger than ever," Senor Castro said. "The soldiers are fight- 
ing badly; their morale is low and ours could not be higher. 
We are killing many, but when we take prisoners they are 
never shot. We question them, talk kindly to them, take their 
arms and equipment, and then set them free. 

"I know that they are always arrested afterward and we 
heard some were shot as examples to the others, but they don't 
want to fight, and they don't know how to fight this kind of 
mountain warfare, We do. 

"The Cuban people hear on the radio all about Algeria, but 
they never hear a word about us or read a word, thanks to the 
censorship. You will be the first to tell them. I have followers 
all over the island. All the best elements, especially all the 
youth, are with us. The Cuban people will stand anything but 

I asked Mm about the report that he was going to declare a 
revolutionary government in the Sierra. 

"Not yet/' he replied. "The time is not ripe. I will make my- 
self known at the opportune moment. It will have all the more 
effect for the delay, for now everybody is talking about us* 
We are sure of ourselves. 



"There is no hurry, Cuba is in a state of war 1but Batista is 
hiding it A dictatorship must show that it is omnipotent or it 
will fall; we are showing that it is impotent." 

The Government, he said with some bitterness, is using arms 
furnished by the United States, not only against him but 
"against all the Cuban people." 

"They have bazookas, mortars, machine guns, planes and 
bombs," he said, "but we are safe in here in the Sierra; they 
must come and get us and they cannot." 

Senor Castro speaks some English, but he preferred to speak 
in Spanish, which he did with extraordinary eloquence. His is 
a political mind rather than a military one. He has strong ideas 
of liberty, democracy, social justice, the need to restore the 
Constitution, to hold elections. He has strong ideas on econ- 
omy too, but an economist would consider them weak. 

The 26th of July Movement talks of nationalism, anti- 
colonialism, anti-imperialism. I asked Senor Castro about that. 
He answered, "You can be sure we have no animosity toward 
the United States and the American people/* 

"Above all," he said, "we are fighting for a democratic Cuba 
and an end to the dictatorship. We are not anti-military; 
that is why we let the soldier prisoners go. There is no hatred 
of the Army as such, for we know the men are good and so are 
many of the officers* 

"Batista has 3,000 men in the field against us. I will not tell 
you how many we have, for obvious reasons. He works in 
columns of 200; we in groups of ten to forty, and we are 
winning. It is a battle against time and time is on our side,** 

To show that he deals fairly with the guajiros he asked 
someone to bring "the cash." A soldier brought a bundle 
wrapped in dark brown cloth, which Sefior Castro unrolled. 
There was a stack of peso bills at least a foot high about 
$4,000 he said, adding that he had all the money he needed 
and could get more. 



"Why should soldiers die for Batista for $72 a month?" he 
asked. 'When we win we will give them $100 a month, and 
they will serve a free, democratic Cuba.'* 

"I am always in the front line," he said; and others con- 
firmed this fact. Such being the case, the Army might yet get 
him, but in present circumstances he seems almost invulnerable. 

"They never know where we are," he said as the group arose 
to say good-by, "but we always know where they are. You have 
taken quite a risk in coming here, but we have the whole area 
covered, and we will get you out safely." 

They did. We ploughed our way back through the muddy 
undergrowth in broad daylight, but always keeping under 
cover. The scout went like a homing pigeon through woods 
and across fields where there were no paths straight to a 
farme/s house on the edge of the Sierra. There we hid in a 
back room while someone borrowed a horse and went for the 
jeep, which had been under cover all night. 

There was one road block to get through with an Army 
guard so suspicious our hearts sank, but he let us through. 

After that, washed, shaved, and looking once more like an 
American tourist, with my wife as "camouflage,'* we had no 
trouble driving back through the road blocks to safety and 
then on to Havana. So far as anyone knew, we had been away 
fishing for the week-end, and no one bothered us as we took 
the plane to New York. 

In this interview were all the elements out of which 
the insurrection grew to its ultimate triumph. So was the 
true figure of Fidel Castro, before power taught him real- 
ism and worked its intoxicating spiritual corruption, before 
the ideals of democracy and freedom presented themselves 
as impossibilities if he was to make a drastic social revolu- 
tion. The essence of the social revolution was there on 
February 17, 1957, in the words of a hunted youth in the 



heart o the jungle fastnesses of Cuba's Sierra Maestra. 

History was speaking, and it will be for history to say 
whether, by and large, he betrayed the grandiose ideal 
for which he was fighting. 

The true idealism of the revolution was certainly there 
on that day. It gave Fidel and his men faith. It won the 
hearts and souls and the allegicince through torture and 
death of uncounted thousands of Cuban men and women 
throughout the island. Some of it even much of itre- 
mains in this late summer of 1961 as the heart and the 
appeal of the Cuban Revolution. But so much was lost! 

I could not claim, myself, at the time to have had any 
idea of the terrific impact my story was going to have, or 
the chain reaction it was going to set up in the whole 
Western Hemisphere. I knew I had a sensational scoop. I 
exulted at the fact that at the age of fifty-seven I could 
still show a younger generation of newspapermen how to 
get a difficult and dangerous story, and how to write it. 
And I was moved, deeply moved, by that young man. 

Anyone who thinks that Fidel Castro did not passion- 
ately believe every word he said to me would completely 
fail to understand him. As I learned in the course of time, 
one could say of Fidel what a contemporary said of Robes- 
pierre: "That young man will go far; he believes every 
word he says." 

It was true that Fidel then had "strong ideas of liberty, 
democracy and social justice, the need to restore the Con- 
stitution [of 1940], to hold elections/" It was also true, as 
I said, that he was leading "a revolutionary movement that 
calls itself socialistic.* These were not necessarily incom- 



patible, as the European Socialist movements have proved. 

I had taken a minimum of notes in the Sierra about sk 
pages which I still have. Among the phrases I did not 
use textuaHy were these: "He inspires confidence ... a 
born leader . , . an enormous faith and confidence.** 

Fidel had said of the civic resistance: "Outside of the 
Sierra we have a support in high social and business circles 
that would be startling if the names could be given/' This 
was trueand these are the men and women now in exile 
in Miami or in the Cuban underground. 

At one point I jotted down: "How young!" I little real- 
ized the importance of that ejaculation. 

For the historic record, a few minor errors in the Times 
story should be noted. It was not true that the Archbishop 
of Santiago de Cuba, Monsenor Enrique P6rez Serantes, 
saved Fidel's life. This is a myth that still persists. Orders 
had been given to kill Fidel on sight when captured after 
the 26th of July attack. The man who caught him, Lieut. 
Pedro Sama, disobeyed orders and brought Fidel in alive. 

I overestimated the size of Fidel's forces in the Sierra 
Maestra at the time. When asked, I said I had seen about 
twenty-five rebels and knew there were others nearby 
perhaps forty in all. This was correct, but I was wrong to 
think the group I saw was a part of a large force. As Fidel 
revealed in a speech to the Overseas Press Club in New 
York in April, 1959, he had only eighteen men tinder arms 
at that time. The number I saw was swelled by those from 
the 26th of July Movement who had come in with me. 

My story, in fact, came at the ebb tide of the flood that 
was to lead Fidel on to fortune. 



Fidel and his men had done more than come down "a 
little way toward the edge of the range/' as I wrote. They 
had come a long wayfrom Pico Ttirquino and, as those 
who went up later to see him discovered, it took about two 
days of walking and climbing, not three hours, to reach 

He had, in fact, put himself well into the region con- 
trolled by Batista's troops, taking a really great risk to 
contact me. The whispering was not histrionics; it was 
a necessity, Fidel told me years later in Havana that they 
did not wait a minute after I left to dash back toward the 
mountain tops and they heard they had narrowly escaped 
an ambush. 

My estimate that the rebels had "something more than" 
fifty telescopic rifles was way off die mark. At all times 
in the next two years the size of FideFs forces was greatly 
exaggerated. He neither needed nor wanted large fighting 
forces. The technique he used was explained so well after 
the victory by Che Guevara in his La Guerra de Guer- 
rillas (Guerrilla Warfare) that the book is now used as a 
text by the United States Special Forces units. 

Finally, I would never again call Raul Castro "pleasant/* 

Having got the story, I had to get it out. Javier Pazos 
went back with me to Manzanillo where the Saumels gave 
me something to eat and Pedro drove us at top speed to 
Santiago de Cuba. There was one scare when a soldier 
stopped us and looked us over too suspiciously, but by 
then we were in our guise of middle-aged American 

In Santiago, there was just time for a hasty snack at the 



home of a woman teacher, Senora Caridad P6rez Cisneros 
who was efficient, kind and brave. She had arranged for 
three professors from the University of Oriente to join us. 
I mention this because all were members of the 26th of 
July Movement and one of die professors happened to be 
Regino Boti, who has been and still is, Fidel's Minister of 
National Economy. The civic resistance was impressive 
as early as that, which helps to explain why I gave so much 
importance to it in my account. 

We took the direct flight that night to Havana, Javier 
traveling with us as our son, "Albert," In Havana, Ruby 
and Ted tried hard to get us to leave immediately, for we 
were sitting on a keg of dynamite and if anyone had 
talked, it would have gone hard with us. 

However, I had some loose ends to tie together, especially 
the secret rendezvous with leaders of the Student Univer- 
sity Federation (FEU), whom I had promised to see. 
That meeting also, in its way, proved historic because the 
President of the FEU was none other than Jose Antonio 
Echevarria who was to die gloriously in the brave and 
almost successful March 13 attack on the Presidential 
Palace in Havana. The students told me they had a plan 
which would put a definitive end to the dictatorship. 

I was taken to the rendezvous by Gonzalo de Varona. 
The other three present were Victor Bravo, Jose Luis 
G6mez Wanguemert and Faur< Chom6n. G6mez was also 
killed in the March 13 attack on the Palace. Faur6 Chorn6n 
(the original family name was Chaumont) became a 
leader of the Directorio Revolucionario, which opened a 
fighting front in the Sierra de Escambray, and he is now 



the Cuban Ambassador to Moscow. Faur6 was badly 
wounded In the assault of March 13. 

Jos6 Antonio was right when he said to me that day; 
**Cuban students were never afraid to die." 

That night we went out to visit the Hemingways at the 
Finca Vigla in San Francisco de Paula, 

We were to fly back to New York on Tuesday morning, 
February 19. The customs inspection at the airport would 
be our last hurdle, Papers were sometimes examined and 
we could not know whether our secret had been kept. 
The pages of notes from the Sierra Maestra and on the 
meeting with the students were dangerously revealing, 
especially as Fidel had signed and dated my notes, 

**Let me carry them," Nancie said that morning. She 
put them inside her girdle and, when we were weU out of 
Havana, retired to the lavatory and extracted them. 

I started working on the plane. The series was held up 
until Sunday, February 24, in order to give the Promotion 
Department time to advertise the articles and to give play 
to the interview. Our Sunday circulation is twice that of 
the daily. 

In 1960, when the attacks on me reached a high pitch, 
William Buckley's reactionary National flewew printed 
a clever cartoon. It showed a happy-looking Fidel Castro, 
sitting on a xnap of Cuba. Underneath was our famous 
advertising slogan: 

*I got my job through The New Jork Times 



The Insurrection 

THERE is NO thrill in journalism like getting a scoop, and 
this was the biggest scoop of our times. Professionally 
speaking, no one can ever take that away from me. No 
one could even try, because it was more than two months 
before anyone else could get in to see Fidel Castro and 
three months before the public had incontestable proof 
that what I had written was true. This was when Robert 
Taber and Wendell Hoffman of the Columbia Broadcast- 
ing System televised a filmed interview with Fidel that 
was presented on May 19, 1957. 

The first reactions to my Interview were outraged 
official denials in Havana. Unfortunately for Batista, he 
had hired a former CBS executive, Edmund Chester, as 
public relations counsel in 1953. Chester generally man- 
aged to do Batista more harm than good, and this time 
he surpassed himself. Like the others, he was convinced 
that Fidel was dead. It followed that my interview was a 



fake. So Chester drew up a statement that was put out by 
the Minister of National Defense, Santiago Verdeja, on 
February 27, the day after my series of three articles was 

We published the text of Santiago VerdejVs denial in 
The Times on February 28, along with my reply and a 
photograph of me and Fidel in the Sierra Maestra. Fidel 
was lighting a cigar and I was making notes. The state- 
ment read: 

The Minister of National Defense, Santiago Verdeja Neyra, 
replied to a cable sent by the New York Herald Tribune to the 
Chief of State requesting some clarification upon the report 
of Matthews in relation with a supposed interview with the 
pro-Communist insurgent Fidel Castro. 

The President has handed to this Ministry the cable for 
reply and the Minister makes the following statement; 

Before anything else, let me assure you that the opinion of 
the Government, and I am sure, of the Cuban public also, is 
that the interview and the adventures described by Corre- 
spondent Matthews can be considered as a chapter in a fan- 
tastic novel. Mr. Matthews has not interviewed the pro-Com- 
munist insurgent, Fidel Castro, and the information came from 
certain opposition sources. 

It is noted that Matthews published a photograph saying 
that it was of Castro* It seems strange that, having had an 
opportunity to penetrate the mountains and having had such 
an interview, Matthews did not have a photograph taken of 
himself with the pro-Communist insurgent in order to provide 
proof of what he wrote. 

The Government does not know whether Fidel Castro is 
alive or dead, but if he is alive, the Government takes the full 
responsibility for stating that no such supporting forces as 
Matthews describes actually exist and, with the same respon* 



sibility, the Government reiterates that at no time did the 
said correspondent have an interview with the individual to 
whom he ascribes so much force and so many non-existent 

Even the political opposition to the [Batista] regime, in 
almost its entirety, repudiates the methods followed by the 
pro-Communist Castro and at no time has he been able to 
build a popular organization to win public support for his 
unsuccessful terroristic attempts. 

As to the poor economy to which the reporter refers, I 
assure you that never in history has the nation's economy been 
sounder or more efficiently administered. It was precisely for 
the purpose of eliminating malfeasance and clearing up the 
Administration, as well as reconstructing the economy of Cuba, 
that the revolution of March 10, 1952, was carried out against 
those who afterwards furnished money, arms and war mate- 
rials, to be used against the nation and against the people of 

The Times followed this with my reply: 

The story about Fidel Castro surely speaks for itself. It is 
hard to believe that anyone reading it can have any doubts. 

So far as the photographs are concerned, there is one of 
Fidel Castro and myself which was not dear enough for good 
newspaper reproduction but which is very clear to the eye 
on a glossy print. 

[The picture ^hich showed me and Fidel Castro was repro- 
duced on the same page of The Times.] 

Knowing the doubts that would be cast on my story, I also 
took the precaution to get Fidel Castro to sign his name on a 
sheet of paper that I had, giving the place, "Sierra Maestra/' 
and the date, February 17, This was reproduced in the final 
editions of The New York Times on Sunday. This edition does 
not go to Cuba, which gets an early airplane edition. Appar- 



ently the Minister of Defense did not see it and did not realize 
the extent to which he had made himself incredible. 
The truth will always out, censorship or no censorship, 

The next day, General Martin Diaz Tamayo, military 
commander o Oriente Province, whose troops were hunt- 
ing for Fidel and his rebel group, also issued a statement 
denying that the interview could possibly have taken 

Statements of that North American newspaperman are 
totally untrue due to the physical impossibility of entering the 
zone in which the imaginary interview took place. No one can 
enter the 2one without being seen. In my opinion this gentle- 
man was never even in Cuba, Someone furnished the imagi- 
nary information and then his imagination did the rest. It is 
totally impossible to cross the lines where there are troops 
and it is foolishness to pretend that a sentry would let anyone 
pass against the orders which he has received. This interview 
is prefabricated with the purpose of aiding the psychological 
war which is going on in the country. I do not know where 
we wiU go if we listen to hofas (rumors) of this type which the 
public have named **radio bombs/* With regard to Fidel 
Castro, I must refer to what the President of the Republic said, 
that is, he may or may not be here. Up to date., no one knows 
for certain. If we have captured so many men, is it that Fidel 
will be the last one? 

Chester was confirmed in his disbelief by the fact that 

President Batista himself did not believe my story. In 
the memoirs the General wrote in exile, entitled Respue^ta 
(Reply), published in Mexico in 1960, he had this para- 



In this atmosphere o doubt, the newspaperman Herbert 
Mathews (sic), of The New York Times, published an inter- 
view held with Fidel Castro and, to confirm it, inserted a 
photograph which, because of the darkness caused by the 
foliage, was not very clear. The military commanders of the 
province affirmed with such emphasis to the High Command 
that such an interview had not taken place, that the Minister 
of Defense made a public statement denying the existence 
of this event and I, myself, influenced by the statements of 
the High Command, doubted its authenticity. The interview, 
in effect, had taken place and its publication gave considerable 
propaganda and support to the rebel group. Castro was to 
begin to be a legendary personage and would end by being a 
monster of terror. 

"Ed Chester, of course, is fit to be tied/' Ted Scott of 
the Havana Post wrote me. "He had told Ambassador 
Gardner that Castro was killed and buried on December 
9, which was a week after McCarthy's United Press des- 
patch reporting Castro's death. . . . Yesterday I was told 
that Ambassador Gardner is simply furious with you and 
The Times and that he will get into the act today with 
some kind of statement. He is being pressed by the 
[Cuban] Government to make a statement and probably 
will do so,* 

Mr. Gardner, fortunately for him, did not issue any 
statement, as it would have made him look as foolish as 
the others. The Castro interview came as a complete sur- 
prise to him and everyone else at the American Embassy. 

It was therefore incredible and inexplicable to me that 
long afterwards, on August 27, 1960, Arthur Gardner 
should have testified under oath before the Senate In- 



teraal Security Subcommittee that I had gone to him in 
advance and asked his help to get up to see Fidel He had 
then, said Gardner, got General Batista to help arrange 
the trip on a promise from me that on my return I would 
report back to the Ambassador on what I had found* 

For the historic record, and because my reputation for 
never writing anything that is not true or to the best of 
my knowledge trueis sacred to me, I am recording here 
in black and white that every word Arthur Gardner said 
before the Subcommittee on this subject was false. 

It is amusing and ironical to look back now on the 
enthusiastic flood of praise and on the Cuban side joy 
that was heaped upon me after my articles on Cuba ap- 
peared. The tide of letters and telegrams that kept com- 
ing in for months had no precedent in my career or in 
anything I had heard. I would say the proportion of en- 
thusiastic support to criticism was about fifty to one. Be- 
cause the photograph of Fidel and me showed us both 
smoking cigars I was inundated with enough Havana 
cigars by grateful, and to me anonymous, Cubans to last 
a year and a half. 

Cubans and Americans wrote poems in my praise. The 
Sevilla Biltmore Hotel in Havana, where we always 
stayed, put a page advertisement in a magazine as late as 
February, 1960, proudly announcing that: **JEn este Gmn 
Hotel $e hospedo HERBERT MATTHEWS, el eminentisimo 
Periodista Americano" (In this Grand Hotel, Herbert 
Matthews, the eminent American journalist stayed-) 

When I went back to Cuba for a visit in June., 1957, I 
learned in Havana and Santiago de Cuba what it was like 



to be a famous Hollywood actor. It was excruciatingly 
embarrassing, as a matter of fact. 

History, like life, has its little ironies. The very Cubans 
who were most grateful and enthusiastic the middle-class 
elements of the civic resistanceare now the most vio- 
lent in their criticisms. The humble people who thanked 
me then are still thankful. 

The history of the revolution was shaping up in this 
period of gestation. No one could know what form it 
would take no one, not Fidel Castro, not the civic re- 
sistance and, of course, not Fulgencio Batista. So far as 
the President was concerned, Fidel was "an agent of the 
Soviet Union" and his followers were Communists. 

The accusation was false, but it is another irony that 
Batista now says: "I told you so/ 7 and many ill-informed 
Americans will go on believing to their dying day it was 
all a Communist plot. 

Professor Juan Marinello, head of the Communist Par- 
tido Sodalista Popular, wrote me a letter at this time 
explaining the official party line. His letter was written 
on March 17, 1957, four days after the students had made 
their heroic and almost successful assault on the Presi- 
dential Palace in Havana. 

"In these days," wrote Marinello (in my translation), 
"and with reference to the assaults on barracks and ex- 
peditions from abroadtaking place without relying on 
popular support our position is very clear; we are against 
these methods." 

He went on to say that it was not necessary to make 


"a popular insurrection" and that what Cuba needed was 
"democratic elections." 

"Our posture with regard to the 26th of July Move- 
ment/' he went on, "is based on these criteria. We think 
that this Group has noble aims but that, in general, it is 
following mistaken tactics. For that reason we do not 
approve of its actions, but we call on all parties and popu- 
lar sectors to defend it against the blows of tyranny, not 
forgetting that the members of this Movement fight 
against a Government hated by the entire people of 

What the Communists wanted, said Dr. Marinello, was 
"a government of a Democratic Front of National Libera- 

This was, and this remained, the party line until the 
autumn of 1958, when the Cuban Reds saw that Fidel and 
the 26th of July Movement were certain to win. They 
then sent their shrewdest brain, Rafael Rodriguez, a 
newspaperman, up to the Sierra Maestra to join the rebels. 
They never helped Fidel. On the contrary, in the crucial 
attempt at a general strike on April 9, 1958, they stood by 
General Batista. At no time did they embarrass the 
Batista regime, and in all the brutal counter-terrorism that 
the Dictator carried out the Communists were spared. 
Very few Reds were among the many thousands of politi- 
cal prisoners in jail 

General Batista was playing the same old game that all 
dictators play so successfully with the United States. They 
claim to be and sometimes even are anti-Communist, 
and this will generally get them tolerance, if not support, 



from American interests. In reality, dictators pave the way 
for the Communists, and if Cuba has not taught the 
United States that lesson we will never learn it. The only 
sure protection against the Communists is democracy. 

Batista had been sitting on a lid ever since he seized 
power by his garrison revolt in 1952. It was easy for a 
while, but by the time Fidel Castro made his apparently 
disastrous landing at the end of 1956, a heavy ground 
swell of discontent had built up. It was widespread, popu- 
lar and bourgeois in content, as well as youthful and 

What it needed was a symbol of hope, a rallying point, 
a leader. Fidel Castro provided all this. He had it in him. 
Nothing could have stopped him at that time. He was 
Cuba's man of destiny. All I did was recognize these facts. 
By my interview I turned the spotlight on him. He has 
held the center of the stage ever since, but that was where 
he belonged. The Muse of History wrote that play, not I. 

Batista, naturally, could not see this, nor could he see 
how unpopular in fact, how hatedhe was. It is notori- 
ous that a dictator who is settled in power and who has 
surrounded himself with self-seekers and sycophants does 
not know what is really happening in his own country. 
Above all, he loses touch with the masses. No one dares 
to tell him the truth. He is told what he wants to hear. 
He deludes himself and is deluded by those around him. 
Unpleasant truths are rejected as lies or the product of 
ignorance. Opponents are criminals, Communists, paid 

(This, alas, is what has happened to Fidel Castro, al- 



though his opponents are "counter-revolutionaries and 
agents o Yankee imperialism/') 

The Cuban Revolution came out of the past. On March 
10, 1952, which was close to the fiftieth anniversary of the 
formal birth of the Cuban Republic, Major General Ful- 
gencio Batista turned the clock back with his garrison 
revolt. Between 1902 and 1906 Cuba had her first Presi- 
dent and her only honest one Tom&s Estrada Palma. He 
was driven out in the so-called "Revolution of August/' 
1906, because a lot of politicians wanted to get jobs and, 
above all, loot the treasury of the 20,000,000 pesos that 
Estrada Palma's administration had saved. History went 
on repeating itself in the next six decades. 

The birth pains of the Cuban Republic had been ex- 
ceptionally long and severe. Other Latin American col- 
onies of Spain had won their independence generations 
before. Cuba remained a colony so much longer partly 
because the Spanish-Creole plantation owners were afraid 
of the Negroes and mulattoes, and partly because it was 
in the United States' interests that Cuba be in the weak 
hands of Spain rather than a volcanic source of disorder 
just off American shores. There had been sporadic move- 
ments to annex the island, and it almost happened a few 
times. To our eternal credit, we refrained from annexing 
Cuba after the Spanish-American War, when we had our 
best chance. 

On the Cuban side the struggle for independence was 
constant and often heroic. It was carried on by Cubans 
who fought a desperate and bloody "Ten Years War" be- 
tween 1868-78, which was lost through eventual exhaus- 



tion. On balance, the United States helped Spain. In 1895 
the Cubans rose again, led by their "Apostle/' Jose Marti. 
Their version of the rebellion is that they were just about 
to win when we moved in to "frustrate" their victory in 
1898. In considering Cuban-United States relations this 
must always be kept in mind. History is often what you 

The idea that politics is a spoils system and that politi- 
cal office is a means of enriching the individual rather than 
of serving the public was one of the evil inheritances of 
Spanish rule. It remained the prevailing attitude in Cuba, 
despite many honorable exceptions. Padding of public 
payrolls, bribing of legislators, graft in public expendi- 
tures of all kinds ( Batista's regular cut on all public works 
was 35 per cent), open raids on the national lottery funds 
and cuts on illegal lotteries, outright theft of public funds 
these were the rule in Cuba for nearly six decades. 

Both the government and the opposition were coalitions 
of splinter parties. To be elected as a Representative to 
the Government coalition (naturally the more lucrative) a 
candidate would have to spend from $100,000 to $150,000. 
His salary during his four-year term would be $48,000. A 
Senate seat never cost less than $250,000; the salary for 
the tenn would be $96,000. 

The differenceand a lot more besides had to come out 
of graft. Since all congressmen had parliamentary im- 
munity, they did not need to fear investigation. The suc- 
cessive Presidents (Batista's predecessors, Ram6n Grau 
San Martin and Carlos Prio Socarrds were among the 
worst) and Cabinet Ministers got their spoils mainly 



through manipulation of the lotteries and padded costs 
of public works. Most American companies moving into 
Cuba to invest (this was especially true of public works) 
had to pay large bribes to government officials and turn a 
blind eye to subsequent graft. 

Batista's regime differed from preceding administra- 
tions only in die prevalence of high Army officers among 
the grafters. The General had seized power with their 
help or forbearance and he kept the officers happy by 
cutting them in. Some made huge fortunes through smug- 
gling and the proceeds of the wide-open, enormously 
profitable gambling, with prostitution and narcotics on the 
side. Some of our most notorious American gamblers had 
a stake in Cuba. The great luxury hotels built in the 1950's 
centered around the expected profits from their gambling 

A Times correspondent, Robert Alden, was taken at 
Christmas time, 1957, "to a new gambling casino fre- 
quented by many persons high in the Cuban Government 
or Army. The automobiles that drove up to this place were 
the longest and shiniest that money could buy. The women 
wore chinchilla capes and sported diamonds as big as 
robins' eggs. Thousands of dollars changed hands at each 
throw of the dice. >? 

The next day Alden was taken to La Llaguas, "a sec- 
tion of Havana hard by a city dump where people lived 
in almost unbelievable squalor in shacks made of palm 

At the end of the first twenty-five years of independence 
Professor Charles E. Chapman of the University of Cali- 



fornia wrote a "History of the Cuban Republic," in which 
he said: "It is doubtful if the most notorious political 
rings in the United States, whether national, state or 
municipal affairs, have gone as far in bad practices as the 
usual government in Cuba/* 

Writing on the fiftieth anniversary, I could only say 
that the record between 1927 and 1952 had continued as 
bad or worse. In the succeeding seven years of the second 
Batista dictatorship, it was still worse. 

On March 10, 1952, the Cuban people were preparing 
peacefully and by relative standards democratically for 
a general election on June 1. They had had Presidential 
elections in 1940, 1944 and 1948, and Congressional elec- 
tions in between. To have passed another milestone in 
1952 would have been a big achievement. 

It was then that Batista struck. He had been the most 
powerful figure in Cuban politics since he engineered the 
"Sergeant's Revolt 7 " in 1933 after the brutal dictator, 
Gerardo Machado, had peacefully departed. There had 
been three Presidents between Estrada Palma and Ma- 
chado (1924-33), one worse than the other. The pecula- 
tions of Alfredo Zayas, Machado's predecessor, were as- 

Cuba was as ripe for a social revolution in 1933 as she 
was in 1959, but the United States, which still had ulti- 
mate control of Cuba's internal affairs through the Platt 
Amendment to the Cuban constitution and through its 
economic domination, worked successfully to forestall 
a revolution. The result was another twenty-six years oJ 
corruption, violence and inefficiency culminating in 2 



revolution far more drastic and dangerous than anything 
that could have happened in 1933. For President Kennedy 
to say in 1961 that the United States favored social re- 
forms in Cuba was too late. We will be fortunate if we are 
not too late in other countries of Latin America. 

Fulgencio Batista was a candidate in the 1952 Presi- 
dential elections. He knew he could not win by the polls, 
so he took power by his garrison revolt. The Cubans have 
always fought for their liberties as they are now doing 
but in between convulsive upheavals there was always a 
pall of defeatism and cynicism, the more or less patient 
shrug of the shoulders, the acceptance of violence, graft 
and mismanagement as if they were the normal order of 
events. When the Batista coup came along too many 
Cubans said: c< Well, what else could you expect? That's 
the way things happen here." 

One who did not say so was a young lawyer, Fidel 

Batista was a self-made man of great native capacities, 
shrewdness, a tigerish courage and ferocity. He was a 
beast of prey, as ruthless and as predatory as any dictator 
in Latin American history. The fortune he amassed in his 
career, and especially in his last period of dictatorship, 
was estimated by Cubans in the hundreds of millions of 
dollars. His cruelty was animal-like; it was not performed 
out of sadism or viciousness simply the law of the jungle. 
It was perhaps not paradoxical that he could be, and often 
was, charming. There was an attractiveness about him for 
which there is an untranslatable Spanish word simpatico, 

He had what Cubans call "character." What he did not 



haveand what Fidel had in overwhelming measure- 
was charisma, that magnetic, mystical quality which wins 
fanatical popular support. Batista, in fact, was only tol- 
erated by Cubans when he was in favor. He was loved by 
none, and those who hated him did so because of his 
brutality and greed. 

There was no respect in which he operated like Fidel 
Castro, and it is ridiculous for Americans, State Depart- 
ment officials included, to compare them. Batista was of 
Spanish, Indian, Negro and Chinese blood. He was or- 
phaned at thirteen and taken into a school operated by 
American Quakers. Before he ended up as an enlisted 
soldier, he had been a cane-field laborer, a grocery clerk 
and a railroad fireman. 

The key to fame and fortune in his case was stenog- 
raphy, which he learned after his first enlistment. At the 
time Machado was driven out in 1933, Batista was a 
headquarters stenographer with the rank of sergeant. 
Morality and patriotism never interested him; politics he 
acquired. Batista had nothing to do with the fall of 
Machado. He picked up the pieces afterwards when he 
led the "Sergeant's Revolt" that made him master of Cuba 
a position he held, in and out of office, for twenty-five 

Fulgencio Batista could not know it, but his importance 
in the history of the Western Hemisphere did not lie In 
his shoddy, brutal, corrupt reign of a quarter of a century. 
His unwitting role was to be the precursor of Fidel Castro. 

It was infuriating to him that I and other American, 
European and Cuban journalists were presenting Fidel 



Castro and the 26th of July Movement as a growing and 
formidable, as well as heroic and patriotic, threat to his 
power. There was Fidel, holed up in the Sierra Maestra 
with a small group of poorly armed followers, and so far 
as the civic resistance was concerned, how could they 
overthrow a government backed by an army of 30,000 
men, the police and a Military Intelligence Service ( SIM ) 
whose ruthless counter-terrorism could beand was 
stepped up to fearsome proportions? 

Logic was on the side of General Batista, the Cuban 
ruling classes, U.S. Ambassador Gardner, the State De- 
partment and the Pentagon. History, Fidel Castro and the 
Cuban people were on the other side. What I saw first 
and what others echoed with virtual unanimity, was that 
the best elements of Cuban society and its entire youth 
were at last getting together to create a new, decent, 
democratic Cuba. 

As it happens, the result in 1961 is as far from demo- 
cratic as it can be. That is another story, which we will 
come to later. In 1957-58, Fidel Castro's ideal was a free 
and democratic Cuba. Neither he, nor any other Cuban, 
would have fought with such passion and courage for 
anything else. 

The story of the insurrection belongs to another book 
and to scholars who have access to the Cuban Govern- 
ment archives and, above all, to the records kept by the 
rebels in the Sierra Maestra. Celia Sdnchez, the appeal- 
ing young daughter of a physician in Pil6n, Oriente 
Province, who joined- Fidel in the mountains even before 
I went up to see him, and who has remained by his side 



ever since, has all the documentation every order, every 
letter, every broadcast, every message and proclamation. 
For history's sake one must hope they survive the in- 
evitable end of the revolution. 

I was always in touch with the rebels in the Sierra 
Maestra and with the civic resistance. No Cuban came to 
New York without seeing me or trying to see me. They 
never got advice or more than their journalistic due, but 
at least The Times was kept informed, and no one could 
say, when the rebellion triumphed, that readers of The 
Times had been kept uninformed. 

Cubans never could understand, and never would be- 
lieve me, when I said that my trip to the Sierra Maestra 
and everything else I wrote was professional journalism. 
The facts and the truth were their best allies in those two 
years of struggle. 

Jaime Benitez, Chancellor of the University of Puerto 
Rico, writing in May, 1961, made a distinction between 
what he called "the two Castros, the two Cuban revolu- 
tions, each appreciable on its own and yet simultaneous 
and inter-acting. 

The first we shall call the Cuban Revolution: it was made 
by Castro with the support of the Cuban people, and be it 
said in fairness, of The New York Timeswhose stories and 
editorials helped to make Castro and his movement acceptable 
to as yet undecided Cubans and of all the liberal press and 
progressive opinion throughout the United States. It had in 
back of it the best Cuban traditions of courage and idealism 
and enjoyed the endorsement and best wishes of free men 
throughout the world. 



Dr. Benitez called the second revolution "Fidelismo" 
which, he said, "was also part of Cuba's background, tra- 
ditions and infirmities. " As I said before, we will get to 
this "revolution*' later. If its embryo lay in the womb of 
Cuban history as early as 1957-58, it could not be seen. 
It need not ever have been born. 

Faustino Perez and Liliam Mesa, the young couple who 
took us to Oriente Province with Javier Pazos, were ar- 
rested by the SIM on March 19, 1957. I learned this in 
a letter from someone named Dolores Montero, a friend 
of theirs in the 26th of July Movement, who wrote me 
from Havana. Incidentally, this was the first time we 
learned their true names and that they were not husband 
and wife. Dolores Montero said that they had been mal- 
treated to get them to confess that they had taken us to 
the Sierra Maestra but had refused to talk. Somebody had 
talked, but it was not either of us. Cubans are as little 
able to keep a secret as any people in the world. The 
Central Intelligence Agency was to discover this when 
it was preparing for the invasion of April, 1961. 

Javier Pazos went underground at the time and later 
joined Fidel in the Sierra Maestra. On January 12, 1958, 
he, Armando Hart, a young lawyer, and Dr. Antonio 
Buch, of a prominent Santiago de Cuba family all im- 
portant lieutenants of Fidel's were captured. Havana 
Army headquarters telephoned Santiago that they were 
to be executed. The telephone operator handling the call 
in Santiago listened in and passed the word to the 26th 
of July leaders in the city. Through the Buch family they 
got on to me in New York and to the State Department. 



Washington had inquiries made through the Embassy in 
Havana and we made our inquiries through Ruby Phil- 
lips, our Havana correspondent. The executions were 
called off. 

This was the way the rebellion had its links to the 
United States. Our inquiry was legitimate journalism, but 
it helped save the lives of three young Cubans, one of 
whom became and still is Minister of Education. 

( I had discovered during the Per6n dictatorship in Ar- 
gentina that Latin American dictators fear The New York 
Times more than they do the State Department, and that 
publicity in The Times would get political victims out of 
jail where recourse to the local courts was hopeless. In 
1955, 1 penetrated the Villa de Voto jail in Buenos Aires, 
under the guise of an Argentine relative, interviewed a 
group of students who had been held without trial for 
months, wrote a story about them for The Times and got 
them released in a few days. ) 

In order to keep "law and order" Batista used some of 
the toughest killers and sadists available in key Army and 
police posts, where they could meet terrorism with coun- 
ter-terrorism. It was what President Gerardo Machado 
had done in 1928-33. The American press in general 
(not The New York Times) has the shameful record that 
it printed almost nothing of this slaughter of thousands by 
Batista while it has chronicled in the most lurid way the 
execution (without torture, incidentally) of hundreds by 
Fidel Castro nearly all "war criminals'* in the first weeks 
of the revolution. 

I had been getting authentic information of the bru- 



tality and the revolutionary ferment, so I went back to 
Cuba in June, 1957. I started out with a long interview 
that General Batista gave me and that we front-paged. 
It was one of Batista's virtues that he never allowed his 
personal feelings to interfere with the business of govern- 
ment. I had done him more harm than all other journalists 
in his career combined, and he was sharp in some of his 
answers, but we sat and talked off the record in friendly 
fashion for three-quarters of an hour. He would not, or 
could not concede that his regime was unpopular, but he 
wryly agreed with me that it is easier to seize power than 
to give it up. 

In Santiago de Cuba, the underground approached me, 
although I was living in a goldfish bowl. Some of the most 
respected citizens provided the cover and the contacts 
that enabled me to have long talks with men and women 
whose lives would have been forfeit if the SIM had been 
as well organized as the 26th of July Movement. The 
operation consisted in leaving the hotel with some promi- 
nent and unsuspected person, driving around to be sure 
we were not followed, then switching cars swiftly, some- 
times twice. At the assignation point a youth would be 
standing or walking as a lookout and would give the sig- 
nal that all was clear and we had not been followed. 

In this way I saw, among others, Frank Pais, Fidel's 
second in command, Celia Sanchez, whom Time maga- 
zine was later to call "Fidel's Girl Friday/ 7 Vilma Espin, 
Raul Castro's girl friend and now his wife, and Manuel 
Urrutia, the judge, who was to become the first, tragic 
President of revolutionary Cuba. Dr. Urrutia had stood 



out against the other judges of the Urgency Court of 
Santiago de Cuba the month before in refusing to con- 
demn a large group of young insurrectionists, among them 
twenty-two who had been on the Granma with Fidel. He 
argued that it was legitimate to fight against a govern- 
ment that violates civic liberties. The Judge was promptly 
relieved of his post, and when I saw him he was planning 
to flee to the United States. The judgment he rendered 
as a veto particular (a personal sentence) was to become 
heresy in the Castro regime. 

The next time Frank Pais came down from the Sierra 
Maestra to Santiago -de Cuba the police caught up with 
him and killed him. He was a great loss to Fidel and to 
Cuba, as was later the tragic death of Camilo Cienfuegos. 
These were two young, very able, moderate and anti- 
Communist patriots whose death left the field clear for 
the radical young Argentine doctor, Che Guevara and 
Fidel's younger brother, Raul. 

As a result of my talks in Santiago de Cuba and Havana 
I was able to tell The Times in a despatch on June 8 that 
Fidel Castro "is stronger than ever, his prestige has risen 
throughout Cuba and he is today far and away the great- 
est figure in the nation-wide opposition to President Fui- 
gencio Batista." 

The next day I sent an article from Santiago de Cuba 
saying the city was "in open revolt' 7 and the whole 
Province of Oriente was up in arms against Batista. I told 
of the reign of terror, of the risks people took to see me 
and how "dozens of humble persons accosted me on the 
streets and elsewhere to shake hands, partly to thank The 



New Yorfc Times for what it considered its effort to pre- 
sent the truth about Cuba in its news and editorial col- 
umns, and partly as a gesture of defiance against the 

"Everybody I saw was convinced that the police au- 
thorities had orders from Havana to refrain from any act 
of terrorism during the three days I was here/ 7 I wrote, 
"For this reason, The Times gets credit for having given 
Santiago de Cuba three days of peace, such as this tor- 
mented city has not known for many months." 

A week later I summed up my experiences in two des- 
patches from Havana. 

'In analyzing the elements of this situation/' I wrote, 
"it seems evident that two men must be satisfied or one 
or the other must withdraw or be killed before a solution 
is possible. Both represent powerful forces in Cuban life 
and they are deadly enemies. 

"The first is General Batista, who holds the reins of 
power primarily through his command of the army and 
the police forces. Important business, banking and land- 
owning elements, Cuban and American, desire peace and 
continued prosperity, and they fear the consequences of 
an overthrow of the regime. These elements also support 
General Batista. Finally, the President has until now had 
the open support and friendship of the United States, as 
represented by the retiring Ambassador, Arthur Gardner, 
who is leaving Havana. 

"The other national figure is Fidel Castro, the rebel 
who leads a fighting force in the Sierra Maestra at the 
eastern end of the island. The Cuban army has thus far 



been powerless to liquidate him and he has a widespread 
following through his 26th of July Movement and sup- 
porters of that Movement everywhere in Cuba." 

I went on to describe these supporters, among the 
youth, the middle class, the civic organizations and the 
Roman Catholic Church. 

"This combined force/* I said, 'Is fighting, literally or 
metaphorically, to oust President Batista and all he stands 
for. It proclaims ideals of democracy, freedom and hon- 
esty in government/' 

These despatches, and others I sent on subsequent 
visits in the next year and a half, and the editorials I 
wrote in New York, undoubtedly helped to malce Fidel 
Castro and his Movement acceptable to Cubans and 
liberals all over the world, as Chancellor Benitez was to 
say. It so happens that every word I wrote was true. 
These were the facts. This was, and is, and always will be 
the history that no scholar with any judgment will be 
able to ignore. 

It was at this time that my connections with the two 
United States Ambassadors who represented us during 
the entire seven years of Batista's dictatorship came to 
what might be called a climax. These relations were the 
subject of a generally nonsensical pair of hearings by the 
Eastland-Dodd Subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary 
Committee, held on August 27 and 30, 1960. 

In my despatches in February and June, 1957, I had 
pointed out how excessively friendly Ambassador Gard- 
ner was with General Batista and how bitterly Cubans 
felt about him and Washington. On June 1(3, 1957, I 



wrote: "Ambassador Gardner left Cuba today with the 
relations of the Cuban people toward the United States 
gravely impaired." 

Of this there could be no doubt. Gardner was possibly 
right in blaming me for his removal from the Havana 
post, although I would like to believe that the State De- 
partment realized his shortcomings. I had seen Secretaiy 
of State John Foster Dulles in Washington a month be- 
fore, and he told me they had had the worst time trying 
to force Gardner out. He wanted desperately to stay and 
even went over Dulles' head to the President to try to 
remain indefinitely. Gardner said Batista would be very 
upset as he, Gardner, was so close to Batista and that 
it would be a sign we were changing our policy toward 
Cuba and acknowledging the Tightness of the criticism of 
himself. Therefore, he could not be persuaded to offer a 
genuine resignation. However, he had, like all ambassa- 
dors, submitted a pro forma resignation when President 
Eisenhower started his second term in January, 1957. 
Dulles told me that he dug that resignation out of the files 
and had the State Department get out a press statement 
that Gardner had resigned and the resignation was being 
accepted with regret. This, he said, explained why the 
President felt it necessary to write Gardner a long letter 
also expressing his regrets. 

Dulles (and all the top State Department officials) 
gave me the impression on that visit that the newly ap- 
pointed Ambassador, Earl E. T. Smith, would get very 
different instructions than Gardner had been getting. 

Poor Cuba was getting still another businessman, a 



complete novice to diplomacy and to Latin America, 
whose only known qualification for the appointment was 
that he was finance chairman of the Republican Party 
State Committee in Florida in 1955 and had helped to 
raise funds in the 1956 campaign. He was a wealthy 
sportsman and broker. 

Everyone at the State Department realized that if ever 
a post required an experienced career officer, Havana in 
1957 was the place. They had a candidate, and the White 
House agreed, but alas for Cuba and for the United 
States, Freeman (Doc) Matthews, then Ambassador to 
Sweden, could not accept for personal reasons. It is on 
such quirks of Fate that history turns. 

The fact that I was supposed to have briefed Earl 
Smith before he went to Cuba came up somewhat sen- 
sationally in 1960, and especially in the Senate Subcom- 
mittee hearing which I have already mentioned. Arthur 
Gardner, who apparently did not approve of his successor, 
first testified that <r he [meaning me] briefed Earl Smith." 

Smith, whose testimony was altogether more respon- 
sible than Gardner's, was asked about this by J. G. Sour- 
wine, the Subcommittee's counsel. Here are the passages 
that concern this so-called briefing (Pages 682-3 of the 
hearings put out by the Subcommittee ) : 

MR. SOURWINE. Is it true, sir, that you were instructed to get a 
briefing on your new job as Ambassador to 
Cuba from Herbert Matthews of The New 
Yorfc Times? 

ME. SMITH. Yes, that is correct. 

MR. SOURWINE. Who gave you these instructions? 



MR. SMITH. William Wieland, Director of the Caribbean 
Division and Mexico. 

MR. SOXJRWINE. Did you, sir, in fact see Matthews? 

MR. SMTIH. Yes, I did. 

MR. SOXJRWINE. And did he brief you on the Cuban situation? 

MR. SMITH. Yes, he did. 

MR. SOXJRWINE. Could you give us the highlights of what he 
told you? . . . 

MR. SMITH. We talked for 1/2 hours on the Cuban situa- 
tion, a complete review of his feelings regard- 
ing Cuba, Batista, Castro, the situation in Cuba, 
and what he thought would happen. 

MR. SOXJRWINE. What did he think would happen? 

MR. SMrra. He did not believe that the Batista government 
could last, and that the fall of the Batista gov- 
ernment would come relatively soon. 

MR. SOXJRWINE. Specifically what did he say about Castro? 

MR. SMITH. In February, 1957, Herbert L. Matthews wrote 
three articles on Fidel Castro, which appeared 
on the front pages of The New York Times, in 
which he eulogized Fidel Castro and portrayed 
him as a political Robin Hood, and I would 
say that he repeated these views to me in our 
conversation. . . . 

MR. SOXJRWINE. What did Mr. Matthews tell you about Batista? 

MR. SMITH. Mr. Matthews had a very poor view of Batista, 
considered him a rightist, ruthless dictator 
whom he believed to be corrupt, Mr. Matthews 
informed me that he had very knowledgeable 
views of Cuba and Latin American nations, 
and had seen the same things take place in 
Spain. He believed that it would be in the best 
interest of Cuba and the best interest of the 
world in general when Batista was removed 
from office. 



Allowing for a sour note or two, this was accurate testi- 
mony. It was correct information and good advice that 
I gave to Earl Smith, and it was a pity that neither he 
nor the State Department based their policies on it. We 
would not, in January, 1959, when the revolution tri- 
umphed have had a hostile, suspicious group of revolu- 
tionary leaders and an embittered Cuban nation against 

In one respect, which Smith did not mention, I thought 
he was talcing my advice. I told him that Havana was not 
Cuba and that the atmosphere in the rest of the country 
was very different, and I suggested that he travel around 
and see things for himself. 

One of the first things the Ambassador did was to go 
to Santiago de Cuba, the only city where we had a con- 
sulate, and to our mining interests in Moa Bay as well as 
Guantdnamo Naval Base. In Santiago, a large group of 
middle-class women demonstrated against Batista and 
were brutally treated in front of Smith by the Cuban 
police. Smith was shocked and said publicly: "Any sort of 
excessive police action is abhorrent to me." , 

President Batista and his associates were very angry 
and protested to Washington. I had immediately moved 
in with an editorial praising Smith highly for what he 
had done and said. Secretary Dulles strongly defended 
the Ambassador in a press conference, and we praised 
Dulles for that. Later I got warm thanks from both 
Smith and Dulles for my help. 

This was the last gesture Smith made on behalf of the 
Cuban people and against the Batista regime. On later 


trips I was to hear bitter criticism from Cubans of Earl 
Smith for what was considered his support of Batista. 

Smith's basic mistake and there is none worse in diplo- 
macywas to keep on backing a losing horse, and even 
in the homestretch, with the winning horse way out in 
front, to try to nullify the victory. He had for months 
been calling Fidel Castro a "ruffian" and a "bandit" and 
this was known to all Cubans for whom Fidel, at that 
time, was a great hero. There are no doubt millions of 
Americans who would say today that Earl Smith was 
right. This is a matter of opinion, but what is not merely 
an opinion is that a United States Ambassador with any 
sense of diplomacy does not insult the man and the move- 
ment who are taking power in the country where the 
envoy serves. 

Thanks to Smith and, I would say, clumsy work at the 
State Department, the United States started out in Janu- 
ary, 1959, with an unnecessarily resentful and suspicious 
Cuban Government in power. 

It was, and is, a great injustice to two devoted and 
competent United States officials to blame them, as Gard- 
ner, Smith, Senators Eastland and Dodd, ex-Ambassador 
Hill of Mexico, Ed Pawley, the tycoon, and many col- 
umnists have done for the defeat of Batista and the tri- 
umph of Castro. I refer to Assistant Secretary of State 
Roy R. Rubottom and William Wieland, who is men- 
tioned above. 

In the first place, they could not have prevented this 
outcome. In the second place, their policies in 1957 and 
1958 favored Batista and hampered Castro. It is an as- 


tonishing distortion of history to say the opposite. It is 
equally a distortion of the facts to say that they were 
getting or taking any advice from me about Cuba. In 
fact, we argued frequently about the Department's poli- 

There was no excuse for the charges made against 
Rubottorn and Wieland, or for the way they have been 
treated. This is typical of the McCarthyism that events 
like this bring out in the United States. 

The first time the American people were outraged 
against Fidel Castro was when he and his troops kid- 
naped forty-five Americans and three Canadians at the 
end of June, 1958. It was a typically daring and provoca- 
tive piece of work that showed a contempt for American 
opinion and American power which was more prophetic 
than anyone realized at the time. It was Fidel's way of 
registering a protest against American favoritism for 
General Batista and a demonstration that he controlled 
the eastern end of the island. 

The incident was also prophetic in showing that there 
was nothing the United States could do about it. This is 
a fact of the modern world, as Egypt and Africa generally 
have been demonstrating. The Soviet Union could do 
something about Hungary in 1956 and get away with it, 
because this fitted the methods and aims of totalitarian 
communism. For the United States to treat Cuba as 
Russia treated Hungary would mean the end of our 
democracy, our freedom, our civilization, our way of life. 

The dilemma is a serious one, and there are always 
those who want to resort to force. At the time of the kid- 



napings, some high officers at the Pentagon and some 
Senators wanted to send American Marines in to rescue 
the kidnaped men. Wiser counsels prevailed. 

It was Raul Castro, Fidel's younger brother, who en- 
gineered and carried out the kidnapings. This twisted, 
enigmatic character has played an important but always 
subordinate role in the Revolution. He is four years 
younger than Fidel and without any of his popular ap- 
peal. Sharp of visage and of character, without warmth, a 
disciplinarian, a good administrator, a hater of the United 
States, an admirer of communism and the Sino-Soviet bloc 
Raul has long been seen as the evil genius of the Cuban 

Because, in his student days, he went on one of those 
junkets behind the Iron Curtain for a few months, Raul 
was labeled a Communist almost from the beginning. He 
has always denied this, and neither the CIA nor the 
American Embassy ever found proof that he was a Com- 
munist. No one could deny that for all practical purposes 
he might just as well have been a Communist, and yet 
there was a Cabinet meeting late in 1959 in which Raul, 
furious with the Cuban Reds, shouted that if they got in 
the way of the Revolution he would cut their throats. 
Two of the Cabinet Ministers present told me that. 

There was no excuse for the kidnapings, and for the 
first time I found myself impelled to write sharply criti- 
cal editorials about the Revolution. This caused some 
heartburnings among my Cuban friends who neither 
then, nor in the future, could find any attitude acceptable 
that was not 100 per cent for what they believed. 



It was typical of the Cubans that they could not under- 
stand the anger and resentment of the Americans over 
the kidnapings. Fortunately, none of the captured Ameri- 
cans or Canadians was harmed. On the contrary, some of 
them found it a stimulating adventure which aroused 
sympathy for the rebel cause. 

This was typical of the romantic, youthful aura that 
surrounded the rebels in those months of struggle. Com- 
munism and the hard realities of making a social revolu- 
tion in a hostile world were many months away. 

The guerrillas spread out from the Sierra Maestra in the 
summer of 1958. Raul Castro's "Second Front" was at that 
time in the Sierra del Cristal on the northern side of 
Oriente Province. 

There was still another "Second Front" in the Sierra 
de Escambray in the center of the island on the south 
coast of Las Villas Province. This was where the Direc- 
torio Revolucionario, organized by the university stu- 
dents' Federation, had been operating since the previous 
November. It was not linked to the 26th of July Move- 
ment but had the same objectives. Although smaller than 
the Sierra Maestra operation, and rent by quarrels, it was 
of some nuisance value. 

One thinks of it now because several of its leaders 
made minor history. Eloy Gutierrez Menoyo, the nearest 
thing to their military commander, is now an exile in the 
United States. Faure Chomon, whom I had interviewed 
in Havana with the other students just after seeing Fidel, 
is now Ambassador to Moscow. 

The most interesting figure in the Sierra de Escambray 



was the tough, uneducated young American, William A. 
Morgan, who could hardly speak Spanish when he arrived. 
He wrote me several times, once to complain of other 
groups in the Sierra, and once to grumble against Che 
Guevara, who refused to see Morgan's command. 

The interesting thing about Morgan, which entitled 
him to a passing fame as a child of our times, was that he 
had ideals. On February 24, 1958, he wrote and sent me a 
"credo" headed "Why am I Here." Considering that 
Morgan's American citizenship was taken away from him, 
and considering also the contemptuous way the American 
press treated him, one owes him the tribute of quoting 
a few sentences: 

"I cannot say I have always been a good citizen," he 
wrote, <c but being here I can appreciate the way of life 
that is ours from birth. And here I can realize the dedica- 
tion to justice and liberty it takes for men to live and 
fight as these men do whose only possible pay or reward 
is a free country. , . . 

"Over the years we as Americans have found that dic- 
tators and communist (sic) are bad people with whom to 
do business yet here is a dictator who has been supported 
by the communist and he would fall from power tomorrow 
if it were not for the American aid. And I ask myself why 
do we support those who would destroy in other lands 
the ideals which we hold so dear?" 

Morgan was consistent. He went on fighting for liberty 
and against communism until he was stood against a 
wall in the dry moat of La Cabana fortress on March 11, 



1961, and shot. So far as I am concerned, William Morgan 
was a good American. 

Fidel Castro's insurrection was written off as lost by 
virtually all American journalists when a general strike 
was attempted on April 9, 1958, and failed miserably. 
The entire Cuban trade-union leadership, in the pay of 
Batista, refused to support it. So did the Communists. It 
was badly organized and badly led. "The days of Fidel 
Castro," said the first sentence of a despatch to The Times 
from Havana on April 16, "are numbered, according to 
informed sources/' 

General Batista evidently thought so, and soon after- 
wards mobilized his greatest and what was to be his 
lastoffensive in Oriente Province to crush the rebels. 
Here was the proof that the rebellion was won by Fidel 
Castro and his guerrilla forces aided and he needed it 
by the civic resistance. But for Fidel the insurrection 
would have been crushed in the spring of 1958. 

The general strike failed; the civic resistance in Havana 
did not rise, but the guerrillas in Oriente Province went on 
fighting. Their strength grew, although the combatant 
elements were always very small. They fought off the 
Government offensive of May-June, 1958. 

At this point, everyone in close touch with Cuban devel- 
opments could have known that Fidel Castro was going 
to win and General Fulgencio Batista was going to lose. 
This is where the State Department, the Pentagon, the 
CIA, and Ambassador Smith made their great mistakes. 
There was no evidence that they realized the game was 
up until October, a month after Fidel began his final 



offensive with three columns that fanned out from the 
Sierra Maestra, led by Raul Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos 
and Che Guevara. (Incidentally, October, 1958, was the 
month the Cuban Communists jumped on the band- 
wagon. ) 

From the beginning there had been a bewildering, 
contradictory and amateurish array of future solutions, 
programs and demands of and by Fidel to newsmen who 
visited him in the Sierra Maestra. Each one got a different 
version of the Cuban future depending, so far as I could 
tell, on what would pop into Fidel's mind on the particu- 
lar occasion, or what he had happened to read on the 
previous day. 

Meanwhile, his representatives and the Cuban exile 
organizations in the United States, Costa Rica and Vene- 
zuela were getting out an equally confusing collection of 

The charge that Fidel "betrayed"' the Revolution is 
based on the fact that he always, in those years, promised 
democracy, elections, a free press and other civic rights 
as well as his social revolution. Fidel never had any 
original political ideas and he knew nothing about eco- 
nomics, government or administration. This was always 
obvious. He could not be pinned down in any given 
month, let alone any year, to a consistent policy. Those 
who think he is going to retain his present admiration 
for the Communists may get a surprise in 1962 or 1963, 
although that is unlikely now. 

Yet a certain consistency does run like a pattern through 
all Fidel's pronouncements and speeches, from his famous 



self-defense after the 1953 Moncada Barracks attack 
"History Will Absolve Me" to his latest speeches. The 
Cuban social revolution is always there, and it was made. 

In mid-February, 1957, when I went up to see Fidel, 
the underground publication of the 26th of July Move- 
ment, Revolution, published what I believe was the first 

"The Revolution," it wrote, "is the struggle of the 
Cuban nation to achieve its historic aims and realize its 
complete integration. This integration consists in the com- 
plete unity of the following elements: political sov- 
ereignty, economic independence and a particular or 
differentiated culture. 

"The Revolution is not exactly a war or an isolated 
episode. It is a continuous historic process, which offers 
distinct moments or stages. The conspiracies of the pre- 
vious century, the War of "68, of '95, the uprising of the 
1930's and, today, the struggle against the Batista terror, 
are parts of the same and unique Revolution. 

"The Revolution is struggling for a total transformation 
of Cuban life, for profound modifications in the system 
of property and for a change in institutions. . . . 

"In accordance with its goals, and as a consequence of 
the historic, geographic and sociological reality of Cuba, 
the Revolution is democratic, nationalist and socialist/* 

This, in every respect except one, is the Revolution that 
Fidel Castro has made in the year 1961. The democracy 
he spoke of then was liberal democracy; the democracy 
he has now is totalitarian democracy. 

Note the use of the word "socialist," which Fidel also 



employed in talking to me in the Sierra Maestra in 1957. 
Yet a tremendous hullabaloo was made on May 1, 1961, 
when Fidel, Che and others referred to the Cuban Revolu- 
tion as "Socialist" It was agreed in the United States 
that the Russian Communists call themselves Socialists; 
the Cubans call themselves Socialists; therefore the Cubans 
are now Communists. To be sure, this bit of logical non- 
sense, put out by the State Department and the American 
press, had a practical basis from the fact that the Cubans 
were praising the Communist system to the skies, trying 
to copy it in innumerable ways, and going in that direc- 

I am simply arguing that Fidel Castro always called his 
revolution Socialist, and he then meant Socialist not 

The way things are going he will have a state indis- 
tinguishable from communism, and then, perhaps, he will 
call it Communist. He is not afraid to say what he thinks, 
and Che Guevara even less so, Whatever else these young 
revolutionaries may be, they are not hypocrites. 

Writing to The New Jork Times from Havana on 
March 22, 1958, during a trip, I said one of those things 
which in 1960 and 1961 so infuriated Americans, who 
have their own decided opinions about Fidel Castro. 

"The key factor in this dramatic year [since my inter- 
view] has proved to be the courage, dynamism and 
leadership of Fidel Castro, the most remarkable and 
romantic figure to arise in Cuban history since Jos6 Marti, 
the hero of the wars of independence." 

Exactly! If anyone had courage, dynamism and leader- 



ship it was Fidel Castro. And those who doubt the roman- 
tic appeal of Fidel to millions of Cubans and many, many 
more millions all over Latin America, do not know what 
is happening. To be accused, as I am now, of building up 
Fidel Castro as a "Robin Hood" is sheer nonsense. To 
think that The New York Times and not tiie Cuban people 
were behind him is even more nonsensical. 

It is often forgotten in these months when I have been 
made an exclusive scapegoat, that a great many other 
American journalists were writing the same things I wrote, 
Andrew St. George, who became the outstanding news 
photographer of the Cuban Revolution, wrote an article 
for Coronet, published in February, 1958, which was 
typical. St. George had spent weeks in the Sierra Maestra 
with Fidel. 

"The world has known few revolutionary leaders like 
Fidel Castro," he said. "In Cuba, thousands of staid, 
solid middle-class citizens work for him at the risk of their 
lives. One newspaper recently estimated that 90 per cent 
of the Cuban population supports Castro. The Govern- 
ment of Cuba's dictator Fulgencio Batista has often 
claimed that the revolutionists are crypto-Communists; 
yet when newly appointed U.S. Ambassador Earl E.T. 
Smith was asked, on the occasion of his first press con- 
ference in Havana last summer, whether the U.S. State 
Department had seen any proof of Castro's alleged Com- 
munist connections, Ambassador Smith answered firmly 
that the United States had no such evidence," 

(Incidentally, even in this late summer of 1961, the 
United States has no such evidence.) 



Another unfair accusation against The Times was that 
we wanted a revolution and not a peaceful solution of the 
Cuban crisis. I challenge anyone to study the editorials we 
printed in 1957 and 1958, which I would with few excep- 
tions have written as I still do, and find substance for 
such a charge. The contrary is true. We did call attention 
to the arrests, tortures and killings of the Batista regime 
(which very few other newspapers in the country did); 
we pointed to the corruption, and we wrote of the folly 
of the State Department and Ambassador Smith support- 
ing so-called elections which were obviously farces that 
would not be accepted by the Cuban people. 

Add these up and one can argue that The Times cer- 
tainly helped to overthrow General Batista. We also 
helped, in a similar way, to overthrow General Juan Per6n 
of Argentina, General Gustavo Rojas Pinilla of Colombia, 
General Manuel Odria of Peru and General Marcos P6rez 
Jimenez of Venezuela. Argentines, Colombians, Peru- 
vians and Venezuelans were and still are very grateful 
to me and to The New York Times for the role we played, 
We are not criticized for it; we are praised. 

So were we in the case of Cuba, deliriously, and by 
Cubans who now bitterly attack us because neither Fidel 
Castro nor the Revolution turned out the way they or 
anybody expected. 

Much was made of the fact in after months and years 
that on March 14, 1958, the United States canceled an 
arms shipment to Cuba and thus, in effect, instituted an 
embargo against Batista. At first, the State Department 
pointed to this as evidence that it was not favoring 



Batista. Later, critics of the State Department indignantly 
brought this up to argue that the United States sabotaged 
Batista. Both points of view were greatly exaggerated. 

Batista by that time did not need any more American 
arms and from the viewpoint of military power he had 
far more than he needed to crush the rebellion and repress 
civic violence. It was not a lack of arms that weakened or 
defeated him. In fact, the British sold him jet planes and 
he bought other arms in Europe. On the other hand, it is 
true that the American embargo was a moral and political 
setback for him. 

The embargo was an acknowledgment of the fact that 
something like a civil war was occurring in Cuba. To 
soften the blow, the United States encouraged a proposed 
Presidential election in Cuba called for June 1, 1958, 
which would have been an utter farce in behalf of Gen- 
eral Batista. When the election was postponed until 
November 1, we incredibly still encouraged it. The United 
States has an absolute fetish about elections anywhere, 
everywhere, whatever the circumstances. A Batista who 
holds a farcical election with chosen and bought candi- 
dates deserves praise; a Castro who scoffs at the only sort 
of elections Cuba has known, and dispenses with them, 
is condemned for the wrong reasons. He is wrong to think 
that mass demonstrations and his brand of totalitarian 
democracy are a true substitute for genuine elections. He 
is right to say that a great majority of the Cuban people 
are utterly disillusioned with what they know of as elec- 
tions and are not interested in them. Aside from that is 



the fact that Fidel could not have held elections without 
putting a halt to his revolution. 

This is getting a bit ahead of our story, but the purpose 
is to contribute some understanding of why the Cubans 
were so anti-American when the Revolution started. A 
good witness to the way they felt in the spring of 1958 is 
Jules Dubois, Latin American correspondent of the Chi- 
cago Tribune, whose fierce opposition to Fidel Castro 
starting a few months after the insurrection triumphed 
absolves him from any calculated sympathy. 

"Our Embassy and State Department are in the dog- 
house with the Cuban people again/' Dubois wrote on 
March 21, 1958. 

"Cuban public opinion, although throttled by the most 
severe censorship ever exercised by Batista, is outspoken 
against the United States. The people, from the leaders 
of the civic, religious, professional and social institutions 
who demanded that Batista resign, to the students, accuse 
the United States of pursuing a policy to support a dic- 
tator and lose the friendship of a nation. 

^[Ambassador Earl E. T.] Smith is being branded as 
worse than his predecessor, Arthur Gardner. . . . Oppo- 
nents of Batista insist that Smith has been captured by 
Batista's friends and business associates just as Gardner 
had been. 

"They add that he has 'accepted the Batista propaganda 
that Fidel Castro and his top rebel leaders are Com- 
munists, Batista has been shouting this line to the world 
ever since Castro landed here from Mexico in December, 



Our high military officers sometimes show an admira- 
tion for the worst type of foreign officials and a callous- 
ness toward the political objectives of the United States 
Government that are harmful, and Cuba was no excep- 
tion. On September 5, 1957, there had been an uprising 
which mainly affected the south-coast port of Cienfuegos. 
The Cuban Air Force, using planes acquired from the 
United States, bombed and strafed Cienfuegos with a 
ferocity that resulted in the killing and wounding of many 
innocent citizens, women and children included. The 
Cuban officer who ordered the bombing was Colonel 
(later General) Carlos Tabernilla Palmeros, In Novem- 
ber, 1957, the United States Army gave Colonel Taber- 
nilla the Legion of Merit at a banquet where he was 
praised highly. 

That same month General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Chair- 
man of the Inter-American Defense Board, stopped in 
Cuba on an official visit and in a ceremony at the Presi- 
dential Palace responded to General Batista's toast as 

"In my name and that of the IADB, I thank you for this 
cordial welcome. We thank you especially for what you 
have just said, since it comes not only from a great Presi- 
dent but also from a great soldier." 

These words were splashed by the Batista-subsidized 
press (virtually all Cuban newspapers) in the largest type 
and broadcast by all stations. At the same time, an im- 
portant arms shipment for Batista was made from a New 
Jersey port, but United States customs agents arrested 
thirty-one Cubans at Piney Point in the Florida Keys as 



they were loading the yacht "Philomar III," with arms, 
medical supplies and uniforms for Fidel Castro; and a 
federal court ordered investigation into all activities of 
Cuban exiles. 

For some reason, a myth has grown up that the United 
States Government winked and connived at the Castro 
exiles' attempts to get arms, materials and money in the 
United States to fight Batista during the insurrection. As 
a matter of fact, a relatively small proportion of the arms 
perhaps 40 per cent got through and of that amount 
not a great deal reached Fidel in the Sierra Maestra. To 
compare this with the massive CIA help for the Cuban 
exiles in 1960-61 is ridiculous. 

Three American military missions Army, Navy and 
Air Force went on instructing Cubans in arts that the 
Cubans used against their fellow Cubans. These Amer- 
icans were still at it when the 26th of July Movement took 
over Havana and Fidel sarcastically remarked that if they 
could teach Batista's armed forces no better than they 
had been able to, he would gladly do without them. 

Americans should keep in mind when they contemplate 
Latin American anti-Yankeeism, that tributes, honors and 
decorations by the dozens have gone over the years to 
Latin American dictators and their officers from high- 
ranking officers of the United States Armed Forces and 
from high officials. The most famous of all was Presi- 
dent Eisenhower's decoration of Venezuela's brutal dic- 
tator, General P&rez Jimenez with the Legion of Merit in 
1954. There was also the unforgettable day in 1955 when 
United States Secretary of the Navy, Charles S. Thomas, 



in a ceremony in Buenos Aires publicly compared General 
Peron to George Washington. 

To give the State Department credit, there is almost 
always moaning and groaning when these things happen, 
particularly as they get blamed for American policy even 
when reactionary, ignorant and simple-minded Senators 
and military officers or for that matter the press, are to 

The end of the Batista regime approached with the 
United States in the doghouse and the American public 
blissfully ignorant of that fact, or even of the fact that 
Batista was doomed. 

No one could know the exact day the break would come 
since it was within General Batista's power to hang on 
for some weeks longer. 

I had a vacation coming to me and it was an obvious 
hunch for my wife and me to go to Havana on December 
27, 1958, to watch things happen. Not being superstitious, 
I do not subscribe to the theory that newspapermen are 
endowed at birth with a sixth sense, but it seemed to work 
that way. 

As a vacation, it ended on New Year's Eve. Ruby Hart 
Phillips, our Havana correspondent, Ted Scott of the 
Havana Post, my wife Nancie and I and some friends had 
the traditional dinner paper hats, horns, champagne and 
what not at the Havana Riviera Hotel The son of Jake 
Arvey, the Chicago politician, was at our table with his 
wife. Arvey casually remarked, as if it were hardly worth 
saying, that earlier that evening, from the window of their 
house overlooking Camp Columbia Airfield, he had seen 



a number of cars with women, children and luggage 
streaming toward the airfield. We four the newspaper 
people made hasty excuses. We knew what was about to 
happen, although it took until 4 A.M. to confirm that 
Batista had fled. 

I could not repress a sense of personal triumph. In 1945, 
ending a book I wrote called The Education of a Corre- 
spondent, I said: 

I have done my part at the wars in the past ten years, and 
often I thought I would write Finis. But it is not for a man 
to sign off. That seems a little like suicide. . . . A newspaper- 
man is the soldier of fortune, the Ulysses of this [Tennyson's] 
poem who yearns 

... in desire 

To follow knowledge, like a sinking star 
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought. 

. . . One always has that urge to learn more of the world 
and of the virtues and vices of humanity. The way I feel now 
I do not ever want to roam any more ... I have paid my price 
to history, and it is for the younger men to- take up the 
burden, while I sit back and say that we did things better in 
my time, for "there were giants in those days/' 

But if there is another war? 

It had been fifteen years since I had heard what Ernest 
Hemingway called "shots fired in anger/' but I heard 
them those first few days in Havana before the 26th of 
July boys could get in and restore order, and they were 
like the sound of trumpets to an old war horse, 

It had been my triumph, along with others. I will not 
yield it to my critics or to history. But what had been 
won? What had been lost? 



The Revolution 

IT WAS EXTRAORDINARILY difficult to convince the American 
people that Cuba was having a revolution a real revolu- 
tion, not a changing of the guard, not a shuffling of 
leaders, not just the outs getting in, but a social revolution 
in the direct line of the French Revolution of 1789. 

This was the first great failure of the American press, 
radio and television in their coverage of the Cuban Revolu- 
tion. I am not saying that anybody could have known 
what kind of social revolution it was going to be or just 
how it would turn outnot even Fidel Castro had any 
idea of that. 

What he knew, and what anyone in close touch with 
him and his associates knew, was that the whole fabric of 
Cuban society was going to be overturned. 

"The unique factor about the events in Cuba," I wrote 
on January 10, 1959, two days after the triumphant Fidel 
Castro reached Havana, "is that there has been a real 



revolution. While dictators have been eliminated recently 
in Nicaragua, Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, 
in none of these countries have there been such profound 
changes as those that promise to be seen in Cuba in com- 
ing months." 

I then went on to describe the sort of democratic social 
revolution all of us Cubans included hoped for and 
expected in those delirious days. I would include Fidel 
Castro among those hopefuls, for he had not yet begun to 
grapple with the task of making a social revolution. 

On July 15, 1959, on my third visit of the year to Cuba, 
I began a despatch from Havana with these words: 

"Half a year after the revolt against the Batista regime, 
Cuba is in the midst of the first great social revolution in 
Latin America since the Mexican Revolution of 1910.'* 

That this still needed to be said in July, 1959 and that 
it was news to American readers shows how slow the 
United States was to grasp the essence of what was hap- 
pening. True, there had already been the charges that 
Cuba was in the midst of a Communist revolution, but 
this was not true and it merely distorted the picture. 

The Cuban Revolution has had a profound effect in the 
hemisphere because it was a Cuban and Latin American 
phenomenon. The fact that it became communistic has 
weakened its effectiveness, The revolution is not to be 
explained away so easily. 

It seems to me that I have spent a great deal of my time 
in the last two and a half years describing what a com- 
plicated phenomenon the Cuban Revolution is. The ones 
who were sure they knew exactly what it was all about 



and what was happening were at best naive and at worst 
fools, simpletons or knaves. Those who harped on the 
Communist line later said: "I told you so." Theyhelged 
tp^ma^gjb^^ For a yearlincl a half 

certainly in 1959 nobody could know. 

In March, 1961, 1 gave the annual Lectures in History 
three of them for City College of New York on the 
subject of Cuba and Latin America. 

"These are lectures in history for your History Depart- 
ment, so keep in mind some truisms," I said to begin with. 
"History~in-the-making is even less of a science than the 
academic history of the past. We are dealing with human 
beings, not imaginary recreations of what we think hap- 
pened; with complex and conflicting forces that have their 
roots in other years and in different traditions, racial 
characteristics, customs, religion, philosophy of life, eco- 
nomic and political systems. 

"No mind can grasp all the forces at play in a given 
situation even if you can get hold of all the facts which 
you cannot. Clausewitz wrote of the fog of war; there is 
also a fog of history through which we journalists grope 
our way as best we can. At least we are in the midst of 
what is happening. 

"Despite the handicaps, I am going to try, in these 
lectures, to look at the Cuban revolution and its con- 
sequences in the hemisphere as history, with the detach- 
ment that the historian needs. Cuba has been drowned 
in emotions and ignorance in the United States during 
the last few years. There has been a woeful lack of under- 


The fact that Cuba was ripe for revolution was recog- 
nized in no less authoritative a document than the now 
famous '"White Paper" on Cuba put out by the State 
Department on April 3, 1961. It was supposed to have 
been written by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., one of the pro- 
jfessorial advisers at the White House. 

"The character of the Batista regime in Cuba made a 
violent popular reaction almost inevitable/' the document 
s^ys. "The rapacity of the leadership, the corruption of 
the Government, the brutality of the police, the regime's 
indifference to the needs of the people for education, 
medical care, housing, for social justice and economic 
opportunity all these, in Cuba as elsewhere, constituted 
an open invitation to revolution." 

Boiled down, what we were seeing in Cuba was a revolt 
against a small, corrupt, wealthy ruling class whom the 
United States had put in power and helped to keep in 
power. I am not saying, of course, that we deliberately 
chose or wanted venal politicians, corrupt businessmen 
and an atmosphere darkened by gambling, narcotics and 
prostitution. Nor was there any excuse for the Cubans 
who were so dishonest and selfish. I do say, and history 
will bear me out in this, that we accepted, condoned, 
worked with and helped this ruling class to stay in power. 

We did so for business reasons, for strategic reasons, 
and in the name of stability. We built up the already 
existing sugar economy to an overwhelming role, and for 
most of this century dominated the industry. Even in 
1958 we still controlled 35 to 40 per cent of the sugar 



production and dictated Cuba's relative prosperity or the 
JkJck of it through our sugar import quotas. 

We live in a world where nationalism is the most im- 
portant of all political emotions. It takes a destructive, 
xenophobic and often revolutionary form. Therefore, of 
course, the Communists profit by nationalism and we 
suffer. In Latin America, nationalism inevitably becomes 

In Cuba we had also given the Cubans many good rea- 
sons to be our friends and to work with us, and it was and 
always will be to their advantage to do so. But we also 
gave them many reasons to resent us. A lot of chickens 
came home to roost. 

In the White Paper on Cuba, for the first time in more 
than two years, Washington conceded that Americans 
had to take some blame for what was happening in Cuba. 
The self -righteousness of American officialdom, press and 
business community with regard to Cuba played a great 
role in creating the disastrous misunderstandings between 
us and the Cubans in the crucial first years of 1959. This 
does not excuse the stubborn, passionate self-righteous- 
ness on the Cuban side, but two wrongs do not make a 
right, and every element of the situation placed the bur- 
den of understanding more heavily on our shoulders than 
on those of a people exploding with long-pent-up emo- 
tions. At any rate, we did say in the White Paper: 

"The people of Cuba remain our brothers. We acknowl- 
edge past omissions and errors in our relationship with 

A social revolution was narrowly averted in Cuba in 



1933, as stated before, when another brutal and predatory 
dictator, Gerardo Machado, was gently eased out by our 
diplomacy. The situation was ripe for revolution at that 
time, too, and it was a time when we had the power, 
through the Platt Amendment to the Cuban Constitution, 
to influence the Cuban situation decisively. 

As It happened, our influence was directed toward 
holding together the existing fabric of Cuban govern- 
ment, business and society. This, again, was to protect 
our investments, to maintain stability and for the usual 
strategic reasons. Then, as now, we used as an excuse 
for undermining and overthrowing the chosen govern- 
ment of President Ramon Grau San Martin the accusation 
that he had "communistic tendencies/' Considering Grau's 
later record, this was ludicrous, but it worked in 1933. 

So Cuba had twenty-six more years of corruption, in- 
efficiency and profitable business, this time, under the 
domination of Fulgencio Batista. The General ended with 
seven years of straightforward military dictatorship that 
were in the worst Latin American tradition, during which 
time he had the friendship or the benevolence of the 
United States. 

In 1959, nothing could or would prevent a social revolu- 
tion because in addition to all the other factors that made 
Cuba ripe for such an upheaval, a man of destiny had 
come on the scene, one of those extraordinary creatures 
who make history through some qualities that they pos- 
sess. In a real sense, this was Fidel Castro's revolution. 
It was he who gave expression and drive to all the social 
and nationalistic pressures that had merely been threat- 



ening revolutions in Cuba and in other Latin American 
countries. Even though he had needed the island-wide 
civic resistance to soften up and weaken General Batista, 
it was Fidel Castro around whom the nation rallied for 
those two bitter years of insurrectionary struggle, and it 
was his small but effective guerrilla columns that deliv- 
ered the decisive blows. 

The defeat and dissolution of the Army meant that 
Cuba, unlike Argentina, Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, 
could have a revolution of a profound social, political and 
economic type. This really was what Fidel Castro had 
planned and what he and his followers fought for from 
the beginning, although curiously enough it was not real- 
ized by most Cubans, and still less so by Americans. I 
am not talking here of the fact that the revolution turned 
out to be different than anybody Fidel Castro included 
expected at the time. 

The point being made is that Fidel Castro was out to 
make a radical, social revolution that was necessarily 
Leftist, since it was directed against the former ruling 
classes of big landowners, big businessmen and bankers, 
high military officers and politicians, all of whom were 
the beneficiaries of a corrupt oligarchical system. Fidel 
was bound to come into conflict with the United States 
because American property and businesses were going to 
suffer, and because in any event his nationalistic revolu- 
tion had as a major objective breaking United States domi- 
nation of the Cuban economy. 

Under the circumstances it was understandable for 
Castro to accept help from the then small and unim- 



portant Cuban Communist movement, even though it 
had done nothing to help him and had, in fact, supported 
Batista. As the internal conflict and the conflict with the 
United States intensified, the Communists were first toler- 
ated, then used and then needed. The economic struggle 
with the United States meant that Cuba would either 
have to come to terms with the United States or would 
have to turn to the Soviet Union for help. 

I doubt that historians will ever be able to agree on 
whether the Castro regime embraced communism will- 
ingly or was forced into a shotgun wedding. My own 
belief is that Fidel Castro did not originally want to 
become tied up with the Communists and dependent on 
them. I believe he was trapped in 1959-60 by his revolu- 
tionary aims and the massive pressures against him from 
the United States policies and the attitude of the Amer- 
ican people. Then he persuaded himself that it was the 
best thing that could happen, after all. I 

After an event happens, it takes on an inevitability and 
one feels that it had to happen. Historians and journal- 
istsbuild a neat pattern to explain just how a course of 
events progressed naturally and inescapably to its con- 
clusion. Those who live close to the events, who are a 
part of them, who know that the forces and pressures 
involved at any given time in any particular circumstance 
are enormously complex, that those who are making the 
history are driven by emotions, consumed with doubts and 
fears, unable to understand how their opponents feel, 
unable to grasp all the complicated factors at workthose 
who understand and see this know there is no inevitability. 



There is a special reason why the Cuban Revolution, of 
all contemporary events, was incalculable. This was, as I 
said above, because it was given its original form and 
direction and was dominated at all times even within 
possible limits todayby Fidel Castro. If ever there was 
an incalculable creature on earth, it was Fidel. 

He took over quicHy. Looking back, it would seem in- 
credible that he ever expected to do anything else. Know- 
ing him, I would say that every fiber in his body cried out 
for leadership, but I would also say that he could have 
fooled himself into believing that he did not have to take 
command of the revolution. He came to Havana untrained 
in the arts of politics, economics and administration. He 
had no idea what it meant to carry out a social revolution 
in actual fact and not in romantic, unsystematic theory. 
There was no communism whatever in the revolution at 
the time, and Fidel was, in those days, instinctively and 
emotionally anti-Communist. 

Latin American history has been dominated for the 
past 150 years by a phenomenon known as "personalism." 
The caudillo, the dictator, the strong president, the indi- 
vidualthese have been the rulers. The instinct of the 
Latin American, his loyalty and trust and obedience have 
gone to men, more than to parties, more, even, than to 
the nation. 

In Cuba democracy had been growing until Batista 
made his garrison revolt in March, 1952, but it was still a 
feeble growth. Fidel Castro was a hero to 90 to 95 per 
cent of the Cubans, and to an emotional, worshipful 
degree that had to be seen to be realized. It was in vain 



that he set up the well-meaning but weak and little-known 
lawyer, Jose Mir6 Cardona, as Premier. Everyone went 
to Fidel with everything, however big or small. If ever a 
man was drafted as leader, it was Fidel Castro. One 
might add that, if ever a man was willing to be drafted, it 
was also Fidel Castro. 

Leadership satisfied his ambitions, but it also conformed 
to the necessities of the moment and to the ideas that he 
and his associates developed at the time. In fact, back 
in December, 1957, Fidel had written to the Cuban exiles 
in Miami that "anarchy is the worst enemy of a revolu- 
tionary process." 

Modern social revolutions, ever since the French 
started them, in 1789, have followed certain roughly 
similar patterns. The parallels between the French and 
the Cuban Revolutions are, in fact, striking, 

"When you undertake to run a revolution," Mirabeau 
said early in the French Revolution, "the difficulty is not 
to make it go; it is to hold it in check." And to quote 
another Frenchman, it was Chateaubriand who pointed 
out that "the patricians begin a revolution; the plebeians 
finish it." As we would say today, "the middle-class intel- 
lectuals begin social revolutions; the demagogues (of the 
Left or the Right) finish them." 

Those who had fought in or supported the civic re- 
sistance against Batista in the cities were like the Girondms 
of the French Revolution. 

"The Girondins," wrote the English historian, H. A. L, 
Fisher in A History of Europe, "were the last apostles of 
the liberal idea. They believed in liberty, local and per- 



sonal. They had a vision of France settling down to a 
blameless and brilliant existence under a Republican 
Constitution, the finest in the world/' 

However, it was the fanatical, tyrannical, violent 
Jacobins who got the upper hand, and when Robespierre 
and the other Jacobin leaders were guillotined in their turn 
in 1794, and the Girondins tried to make a comeback, not 
they, but Napoleon Bonaparte came to power. The un- 
happy lesson of all modern social revolutions is that the 
moderate, the liberal, the democratic elements have to 
wait until the revolution has spent its force. 

"The clue to an understanding of revolutions," to cite 
Fisher again, "is that they are worked by small fanatical 
minorities." And as Albert Camus pointed out in The 
Rebel: "All modern revolutions have ended in a reinforce- 
ment of the State/* 

The Castro revolution has conformed to type. In a hap- 
hazard, opportunistic way, almost as if it were responding 
to compulsive forces, it quickly built up a centralized 
structure of which Fidel Castro became absolute master. 

What Fidel, Che Guevara, Raul Castro and the others 
did, was to use the technique first evolved in this century 
by Lenin ( and later also used by the Fascists, the Nazis, 
Franco in Spain, some Latin American caudillos). Power 
is seized by a determined minority through control of the 
army, police and means of communication. It is used to 
make the revolution, not (or not at first) to create a power 
elite or the super-mechanism of the party or state. That 
comes later. Walt Whitman Rostow, incidentally, says 
that "transitional societies" are peculiarly vulnerable to 



such a seizure of power and Cuba in 1959 could be de- 
scribed as a nation in wliicli the foundations of transition 
toward a "take-off" had been laid. 

In any event, modem social revolutions of the type 
exemplified by the French Revolution all have totalitarian 
characteristics while they are taking place. This is no 
excuse for totalitarianism; it is a simple statement of fact. 
There are other types of social revolutions Uruguay and 
Costa Rica are examples in Latin America but such a 
peaceful, essentially evolutionary method of change was 
not possible in Cuba in 1959. 

In the case of the Fascists and Communists, the total- 
itarianism is doctrinal and it becomes relatively static, at 
which time it ceases to be revolutionary. The Soviet Union 
is not a revolutionary country today nor, for instance, was 
Fascist Italy in the 1930 ? s. There is nothing static about 
the Cuban Revolution, although it is on the way to becom- 
ing a type of Communist regime. 

I think in these days we can dismiss the Fascist revolu- 
tions. There are fascistoid regimes, such as Spain's and 
Portugal's, but with the defeat of the Axis in the Second 
World War we put an end for the time being to the true 
Fascist regimes and there is no evidence that doctrinal 
fascism can make a comeback anywhere. Elements of 
fascism are a permanent part of the contemporary world 
and we even see them in the United States in the John 
Birch Society and the types of peopk and organizations 
which support the recrudescence of McCarthyisrn in all 
its forms. 

The post-war social revolutions are nationalistic and 



Leftist, and at best, neutralist. None has been truly Com- 
munist except China's and Yugoslavia's, plus those satel- 
lites of the solid Soviet bloc forced into communism by 
military pressures. Many of the new African nations and 
Egypt, Iraq and Indonesia are examples of the national- 
istic, neutralist type of revolution. 

Leon Trotsky somewhere wrote of "the innate inability 
of the Anglo-Saxon political genius to understand a revo- 
lutionary situation." How true that was! Americans could 
not even see the Cuban revolution for a long time, and 
when they did they could not understand it. This was not 
true of Latin Americans, nor even of Europeans. We 
should not forget that even Thomas Jefferson disapproved 
of the French Revolution. Andrew Jackson would prob- 
ably have understood the Cuban phenomenon better. So 
would Franklin D. Roosevelt. Certainly not Dwight D. 

A social revolution destroys the existing political, eco- 
nomic and social fabric of a nation and transfers power 
and the control of the economy to a small group of men 
who are necessarily extremists. They thereupon create a 
new structure on the ruins of the old. If the work of 
destruction is done thoroughly (and this is the case in 
Cuba) it is never possible to turn the clock back, to re- 
store the ancien regime. 

In order to understand a social revolution, you must 
put yourself in the place of those making the revolution 
and recognize that revolutions have their own logic. You 
must not and this was a cardinal error in American 
thinking interpret what is happening by your own yard- 



sticks. In our case this meant trying to interpret what was 
happening in Cuba in terms of our own stable, moderate, 
efficient, orderly, mature, democratic way of life. These 
had no relevance to Cuba. In any circumstances, it is not 
possible to apply criteria of normalcy to a revolutionary 
situation. Democracy, elections and free enterprise are 
simply not possible while a revolution of this type is being 
made, not because it is Communist but because a system 
like ours requires peace, stability and slow evolution, not 
sudden revolution. Criticize the Cubans, if you will, for 
having a revolution, or for making their revolution the 
way they are doing. Ask them to have democratic elec- 
tions, but don't ask unless you realize you are asking them 
to~give up their revolution. 

It should not be necessary to say (although apparently 
it is) that to explain and describe a social revolution like 
Cuba's is not to praise or excuse it. I do not believe in 
quarreling with history. The failure to understand what 
happened in Cuba in 1959 was, to me, the inexcusable 
thing. No one can say how much difference this may have 
made, but a failure to understand would, in any circum- 
stances, have been fatal. 

Social revolutions of the Cuban type inevitably have a 
class character. The "revolt" is against the existing ruling 
class already described and which in Cuba, as elsewhere 
in Latin America, was a small group of landowners, busi- 
nessmen, bankers, high military officers and the politicians 
who came from these elements. These are middle- and 
upper-class groups. Those whom the revolution aims to 
favor are the masses in Latin America mainly the peas- 



ants, but also the urban proletariat of the mushrooming 

To make such a revolution, you need new men whose 
first qualification must be loyalty to the revolution and 
its leader. There was astonishment and ridicule when 
Premier Fidel Castro appointed Che Guevara as President 
of the National Bank of Cuba in November, 1959, to suc- 
ceed one of the most competent and internationally re- 
spected economists in Cuba, Felipe Pazos. Yet, it was a 
logical move at that stage. Che knew nothing about bank- 
ing, but Fidel needed a revolutionary, and there are no 
revolutionary bankers. 

The old ruling class, as I said, was displaced and dis- 
possessed. Anyway, it was thoroughly discredited, for it 
had permitted and profited by all the abuses and failings 
that made Cuba ripe for revolution. The replacements 
were naturally, for the most part, young men. This meant 
they had no experience in business, public administration 
or the professions. There were no millionaires, no gen- 
erals, no politicians and few technicians. 

Obviously, one was not to expect efficiency or organiza- 
tion. The disorganization in Cuba was, in fact, appalling. 

Yet, a revolution sets great forces in motion. It is like a 
cataclysm of nature. A nation is alive; it is the composite 
of the men and women who live in it and few nations 
are as vividly alive as Cuba. The country had been 
geared to a certain pace, a certain way of life, a whole 
complex machinery of economy, government and social 

The revolution upset all this. It gathered momentum 



fast, A revolution is a process, not an event. The dynam- 
ism was such, that those who lost touch with Cuba for 
even a few months did not really know what was hap- 
pening. Yet the momentum of civic life does not stop. 
Everything keeps going but unevenly, clumsily, uncon- 
trollably. Everybody tries to carry on as before, to do his 
work, hold his job, his property or his business. The com- 
plicated bureaucracy of government has to continue as 
best it can. 

All the time, the powerful forces unleashed by the 
revolution are beating on this structure with the fury of a 
tropical storm and it crumbles. The new leaders are not 
only inexperienced and unrealistic; they are concerned 
far more with social and political objectives than with the 
economy. They have to be tough, hard, contemptuous of 
the sufferings of the few, intolerant one is tempted to say, 
fanatical. Your dedicated idealist in the revolutionary 
field is like that. Revolutions are not made by weak or 
timid men. The new leaders play to win and in the process 
break many hearts, commit many injustices to individuals 
or groups. 

s A Revolutionary leader has to be an extraordinary char- 
acter with extraordinary qualities of courage, leadership, 
ability, intelligence, popular appeal. In Latin America, 
\pth its invariable, inescapable feature of "personalism," 
the revolution will be made by one man, in the past a gen- 
eral, in Cuba a charismatic leader. 

What makes the phenomenon a revolution in the true 
sense of the word is bringing about a complete change- 
social, economic and political. What makes It a Leftist 



revolution in modem terms can be expressed in very old 
words from the "Magnificat" o Luke: "He hath put down 
the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low 

Within this general framework, revolutions take their 
particular, national form. This was and still is a Cuban 
revolution. Even granting that it has become more and 
more communistic; even supposing it goes on to become 
a Communist revolution, it would still be a Cuban revolu- 
tion; it would have to be interpreted in Cuban and Latin 
American terms. At the very most, it would be a bastard 
child of Moscow and Peiping, and a very unruly one in 
fact, a juvenile delinquent from their point of view. 

Chancellor Jaime Benitez of the University of Puerto 
Rico tries to explain the dichotomy by making a distinc- 
tion between "the two Castros, the two revolutions," "the 
one reaching for social reforms through liberalism and 
freedom," the other "a haphazard, totalitarian, propa- 
ganda operation, run in mobocratic fashion; complete with 
government by marathon television spectaculars, by 
artificial crises, organized hysteria, calculated bloodletting 
and deliberate vulgarization. It is a corruption of the 
Cuban Revolution that has not yet destroyed it." 

For Dr. Benitez, the revolution is not based on Marxist 
principles "really it is much less scientific and profound." 
This was the opinion that Ambassador Adlai Stevenson 
found prevalent in South America during his trip in June, 
1961. He said Latin America made a distinction between 
the Cuban Revolution and communism, a distinction that 



the United States Government (quite wrongly, in my 
opinion) stopped making in March, 1960. 

On our part, we were failing to understand, over- 
simplifying, not grasping the fact that the Cuban Revolu- 
tion, for all its startling newness, had profound roots in 
Cuban and Latin American history. It came out of the 
past, not out of Moscow. 

Latin America has been notorious even a little ridicu- 
lousfor its political instability, its innumerable so-called 
revolutions. Yet there has, on the whole, been social stabil- 
ityalmost immobility for 450 years. The same ruling 
classes are still in control those I have mentioned before. 
They were, at first, the aristocratic, hereditary landowners 
and the military officers and caudillos who came out of 
that element, and then, also, the business and banking 
interests when they developed. The political leaders came 
out of these same groups. Taken together, they make a 
small privileged, often corrupt, relatively (sometimes 
fantastically) wealthy, exclusive ruling class. Through 
the military establishments, whose generals and colonels 
belong to this class, they hold the decisive power in nearly 

all the Latin American countries. 


As a general rule, the masses (at first rural workers and 
then also the urban proletariat) have lived in real or at 
best, relative, poverty, ignorance and disease. We all 
know, surely, in the year 1961, that this state of affairs is 
no longer acceptable. Those masses now know that their 
misery is not the will of God or Allah or destiny, but is 
due to the selfishness, inefficiency and corruption of their 



rulers. This is not a Latin American phenomenon; it is 

The revolutionary pressures one sees and hears about in 
Latin America are essentially a demand for social justice 
a higher standard of living, a better distribution of 
wealth, what President Kennedy in an address at the 
White House in March, 1961, gave as "homes, work and 
land, health and schools." This idea is also at the basis of 
Pope John XXHTs Encyclical of July 21, 1961. 

Who is going to satisfy these demands, or, to be more 
realistic, give the promise of satisfying them? This is 
where the cold war comes into the Western Hemisphere, 
and it was brought in by the Cuban revolution. Until 
that upheaval we had an ideological monopoly in the 
Western Hemisphere. The Latin American nations had 
only one road to take the long, slow, uphill but sure way 
to our capitalistic, free-enterprise, democratic system. 
We said, in effect: ''First you have your economic devel- 
opment; then you can make your social changes. Evolu- 
tion, not revolution." 

But this post-war world is revolutionary. Not our part 
of it, to be sure, not our affluent society with its fan- 
tastically high standard of living, its peaceful, stable, 
mature, democratic way of life. The rest of the world 
what sociologists are calling the southern half of the 
world underdeveloped, backward, inexperienced, un- 
committed, clutching wildly for the better things of life 
this world is now hearing another siren's song. 

There were two streams of political thought that came 
out of the eighteenth century. We, the British, the North- 



ern Europeans, the Anglo-Saxon Commonwealth nations 
and a few others, are products of a liberal democratic 
stream. The Communists, the Fascists, the authoritarians 
of different varieties, are products of another stream, the 
one J. L. Talmon calls "totalitarian democracy/' It has 
been flowing in eastern Europe and Asia, and seeping into 
Latin America. It says, in effect: "First you make your 
social change (in other words, first have your revolution) 
and then have economic development." 

This is what Russia did and what China Is doing. It is 
what Cuba is trying to do. It is the revolutionary road- 
radical, Leftist, socialistic, communistic. 

It may be that a third road is beginning to open up (in 
Africa and Asia, as well as in the Western Hemisphere). 
In Latin America it might be hewed by the Brazil of 
President Janio Quadros not a free-enterprise, capital- 
istic system like ours, nor the totalitarian-socialistic type 
of the Soviet bloc, which Cuba is embracing. It would be 
socialistic in the sense of a very high degree of govern- 
ment planning and control, but it would be capitalistic in 
the considerable field left to private enterprise and the 
orthodox methods of banking, credit and financial opera- 
tions generally. 

Most important of all, it would be politically neutral 
and independent in the case of Brazil, essentially demo- 
cratic. It would not try to copy the United States or the 
Soviet Union. It would not be dependent on either. Inso- 
far as it resembles any contemporary form, it would be a 
social democratic (hence socialistic) welfare state with an 



exceptionally strong executive. It would be intensely 
nationalistic, and hence would be no country's satellite. 

The evolution of such a type of government is possible 
in Brazil, and perhaps in a few other rich and developed 
Latin American nations like Mexico, Argentina and Chile. 
Whether there is time, opportunity, leadership and United 
States, as well as local, wisdom are the great questions. 
In this year 1961, as in 1959 and 1960, we have been see- 
ing a polarization of thoughts and aims in Latin America, 
brought about by the Cuban Revolution. There was only 
one way before 1959 because of our overwhelming power, 
wealth and influence. It was our way. 

Fidel Castro and his associates were the first in the 
history of Latin America to come along and say: "There 
must be another way. The old way brought us social im- 
balance, corruption, political inefficiency and subservience 
to a foreign powerthe Yankees. Let us break with the 
past and find new ground." If the Cuban Revolution fails 
it will be because they do not find "new** ground; because 
they do not make a Cuban Revolution. They will have 
moved into the different, but neither original nor espe- 
cially Latin American, ground of totalitarian communism 
a la Moscow, 

I am saying: "if." I am not saying they have yet failed 
to make a Cuban Revolution. It is too soon to say; the 
Revolution is too dynamic, too dominated by Individuals 
who are under no orders and no discipline, and, above all, 
it is under the supreme direction of one of the most orig- 
inal and incalculable characters of the twentieth century 
-Fidel Castro. 



In its idealism and there has been and still is genuine 
idealism behind it the Cuban Revolution is an expression 
of the aspirations and the needs of the masses of the peo- 
ple in Latin America. It is a result of the forces that have 
been at work in Cuba and in Latin America not for years, 
but for generations. The causes of the Cuban Revolution 
and of the revolutionary pressures in the hemisphere go 
back centuries before Marx and Lenin or the birth of 
Fidel Castro. This means that if we succeed in destroying, 
or helping to destroy, the Castro regime, we and Cuba 
would be facing the same pressures, the same ideals and 
aspirations and demands for social justice. 

What we would also be facing in Cuba (and this is 
something that Americans do not seem to want to recog- 
nize) is a revolution that has triumphed, a revolution that 
has been made. Not all the Cuban exiles, even if they had 
succeeded in their invasion of April, 1961, not the Cen- 
tral Intelligence Agency, not even the American Marines 
if we were so mad as to use them, could put this Cuban 
Humpty-Dunipty, whom we once nursed so carefully, 
together again. 

A detailed attempt to analyze what has and what has 
not been done in Cuba by the Castro regime would b 
out of place in this book, aside from the fact that the 
dynamism of the Revolution is such that events quickly 
overpass the descriptions of a given period. The Cuban 
Revolution is a process, as I remarked before, not a set 
piece that one can photograph. It must be felt, under- 
stood, watched for its trends and calculated on the basis 
of the complicated Cuban and international forces at 



work, as well as the individual factors, with special atten- 
tion paid to the overwhelming personality of the revolu- 
tionary leader, Fidel Castro. 

However, certain broad features of the process need 
underlining if only because American press, radio and 
television coverage, official propaganda and the wishful 
thinking of Cuban exiles have tended to give a mistaken 
impression. The Cuban economy is not going to collapse. 
There was a possibility of this in 1959 and especially in 
1960 after we cut off the sugar quota imports, but so long 
as the Communist bloc continues to help, the Castro 
regime can carry on and, in fact, the general trend this 
year is, if anything, slightly upward. 

American press coverage has generally concentrated on 
the bad or weak features of the Revolution, of which there 
have been many. As a result, the fact that the regime was 
making good progress in some directions and doing some 
very good things was overlooked. Jose M. Bosch, Cuba's 
leading businessman, told me in 1960 that before the 
Revolution Cuba was going downhill fast economically 
and would have been ruined in five or six years. To be 
sure, Senor Bosch and other Cuban industrialists are con- 
vinced that the country is now going downhill even faster. 

This depends on what one means by downhill and who 
is going down. It must never be forgotten that economics 
is a secondary factor in a social revolution. Most foreign 
observers have agreed that the Cuban agrarian reform is 
working fairly well, but even if it were not, the important 
thing is that there is an agrarian reform. This is what made 



such a great impact around Latin America where the 
need for land reforms is basic. 

Anyway, the Cuban peasants say 40 per cent of the 
populationand many city dwellers, were living at not 
much better than a subsistence level before the Revolu- 
tion. Whatever the Revolution did, it could not take them 
lower. In truth, it has bettered their lot. Even if the 
agrarian reform creates a Communist-type State system 
the peasant did not have freedom and democracy before, 
does not know what they mean and cannot be expected 
to care. 

He does know that for the first time in Cuban history 
a government cares for him, wants to help him and is 
helping him. He is now part of a cooperative or state-run 
farm; he is getting new and decent homes, schools for his 
children, hospitals, roads. For the first time proper atten- 
tion is being paid to public health in such matters as dig- 
ging wells and providing shoes for poor children. 

In the United States one hears, or reads, almost nothing 
about one of the most extraordinary features of the Cuban 
Revolution its civic honesty. This is the first honest Gov- 
ernment that Cuba has seen since Columbus discovered 
the island. 

Professor Harry Stark of the University of Miami, in his 
book, Social and Economic Frontiers in Latin America, 
issued in the summer of 1961, paid tribute to the unaccus- 
tomed honesty of Cuba today: 

Public corruption was entirely eradicated, especially that 
which had always been rampant in the national lottery. The 
augmented proceeds from these lotteries were employed to 


build low cost housing. . . . Military personnel was forbidden 
to drink alcoholic beverages in public places. Smuggling and 
customs house corruptions were ended. Tax collections be- 
came more efficient and rigorous. Public begging was sup- 
pressed. Many new public works projects were started. . . , 
Noteworthy is the fact that all of this was accomplished with 
the maintenance of a high quality performance, with strict 
honesty, and with unbelievable speed. 

Let it be conceded in all fairness that the accomplishments 
of the revolutionary government received almost no news 
coverage or recognition, and certainly no praise, in the United 

Whether the public works were of high quality or not, 
one thing was certain all the money assigned to a project 
went into it. Under all preceding Cuban Administrations 
(and the relatively democratic regimes of Grau San 
Martin and Prio Socarras were among the worst) from 40 
to 60 per cent of the public monies went into the pockets 
of government officials and businessmen. General Batista's 
regular cut, as I mentioned before, was 35 per cent, with- 
out counting what others took. 

Integration is another feature of the Cuban scene some- 
what neglected by Americans. We must not forget tibat the 
so-called "image" of the United States throughout Latin 
America is gravely damaged by the continuance of segre- 
gation here. We do not get credit for the progress being 
made toward integration; we do get the worst kind of 
publicity from such incidents as the brutal beating by 
whites of the "Freedom Riders" in Alabama in the spring 
of 1961. 

Negro slaves were imported to Cuba in the first half 



o the nineteenth century, mainly to work on the sugar 
plantations. The aboriginal Indians had died off or been 
killed off long before. By 1943 a census listed about one 
quarter of the population as Negro or mulatto. There 
were no "Jim Crow" laws in Cuba and much intermarriage 
in the lower levels of society. However, there definitely 
was a "'color line" in society, army, industry, the profes- 
sions and politics. The ruling classes in Cuba right up to 
1959 were overwhelmingly white. The upper-class society 
was almost wholly white. They had strict color bars in 
their clubs. Batista, who was of mixed blood, was em- 
barrassed when this was sometimes pointed out. 

In revolutionary Cuba there are no color bars. The 
chief of the Army, for instance, Juan Almeida (who was 
with Fidel when I went up to the Sierra Maestra in Feb- 
ruary, 1957) is a Negro. There were no Negro high officers 
before under the Republic. 

It would not have been necessary to call attention to 
these features of the Cuban Revolution if they had been 
fairly reported to the American people. I do not mean 
at all to give the impression that Cuba is now a paradise, 
that all is well, that the Revolution is a shining success. 

Far from it! Terrible mistakes have been made; some 
very bad things have been, and are being, done. I was 
one of the first in the United States in 1959 to point to 
the absolute power that Fidel Castro had assumed. As I 
wrote for Stanford University's Hispanic American Re- 
port in August, 1960: "The regime is a dictatorship, with- 
out freedom, under the control of one man. Law is an 
arbitrary concept." I brought sorrow to my Cuban ad- 



mirers when I told an audience of alumni at Columbia 
University in June, 1961, that Cuba was then and had 
been for some time "a totalitarian police state." 

I do virtually all the editorials on Latin America that 
appear in The New Jork Times, including those on Cuba. 
For nearly two years now these editorials have been 
uniformly critical, although they have not paralleled the 
emotional and sometimes misinformed interpretation of 
most United States newspapers, and they have not seen 
the Cuban Revolution in the same terms as those of the 
exiles in Miami. Being "pegged" to news items from 
Havana and Washington, they did not do justice to the 
good features of the Revolution, either, but it has taken 
courage on the part of The New York Times to keep its 
editorials on Cuba within the bounds of the true situa- 

That situation was especially open to criticism in the 
drift of the Castro regime toward and into the commu- 
nistic camp. This is the feature of the Cuban Revolution 
that has dominated American thinking and emotions, as 
well as the policies toward Cuba of the Eisenhower and 
Kennedy Administrations. It has not at all played a simi- 
lar role in Latin American thinking, as Adlai Stevenson 
found on his trip to South America in June, 1961, nor has 
Canada or the rest of the world accepted the American 

The problem that future historians will have to face 
lies in the fact that the Castro regime was not com- 
munistic in its early stages but gradually moved deeper 


and deeper Into the Communist camp, and if this trend 
continues we will have a Cuban variety of communism. 

I do not believe myself that there will be any problem 
for these historians on the question of whether Fidel 
Castro, Che Guevara, Raul Castro and some other top 
leaders were, themselves, Communists. They always de- 
nied that they were and there is no evidence to date that 
the top three Fidel, Che and Raul ever were Commu- 
nists in the sense of being members of any Communist 
party. Not even the United States White Paper was able 
to claim this. It surely should be obvious (although ap- 
parently it is not) that if the CIA or the FBI or the Ameri- 
can Embassy in Havana or the State Department was 
ever able to unearth proof that any of these men were 
Communists, they would have proclaimed it triumphantly 
to the world. The argument that they might just as well 
be Communists is another matter, but this is quite dif- 
ferent from saying that they were, or are, Communists. 

New evidence may change the picture, but on the evi- 
dence available and on my personal knowledge of Fidel 
Castro, I have always said and I still say that he was not 
and is not a Communist. 

The Publisher of The New York Times, Arthur Hays 
Sulzberger, was, like many others, puzzled by my insist- 
ence and asked me for an explanation after a trip I made 
to Cuba in August, 1960. This was my reply: 

I have your note asking what my definition of a Communist 
is. I have a very simple and straightforward one and I con- 
sider it the only exact one. 

A Communist is a man or woman who 1) either belongs 



openly to the Communist party or 2) is a crypto-Communist 
In either case the person takes his orders from his party or 
movement, is responsible to it and is an agent of Moscow. 

In my opinion it is most important to make this distinction. 
Take the Cubans. It may make no difference whatever today 
and in practice for the time being, whether they are Reds 
or simply doing as the Reds do. In the long run it can make 
all the difference in the world, because, if they are not under 
Communist discipline, taking orders from the party and Mos- 
cow, they can change. They can even turn on the Reds and 
destroy them. 

The terms communism and Communist are much too loosely 
used in the American press and by Americans generally. I 
believe that the precise definition I have give above is the 
only one we should use in The Times and as a matter of fact, 
I think it is. 

The problem, from the beginning, was that Fidel Castro 
was making a radical, Leftist, nationalistic revolution that 
inevitably brought conflict with the United States. The 
old cry: "Our enemy is on the Right! No enemies to the 
Left!" heard in the West since the French Revolution was 
now being heard in Cuba. 

The Batista dictatorship had laid the foundation for the 
Communists. In Cuba all the old-line political parties had 
been thoroughly discredited or broken up into fragments. 
The 26th of July Movement was a congeries of men, 
parties and classes, split down the middle by a dividing 
line between the Sierra Maestra group, who were out for 
a very radical social revolution, and the civic resistance, 
which wanted to make social reforms but in a democratic, 
evolutionary way. 



This left only the Cuban Communists, trained, or- 
ganized and ready. Their party kept on functioning from 
the Batista era. It was and iscalled the Partido Social- 
ista Popular (Popular Socialist Party). It had not helped 
Fidel Castro on the contrary but it was naturally ready 
to help now and, being tolerated, became the only polit- 
ical party operating in Cuba. This did not mean that it 
even remotely had the sort of power Communist parties 
have in Communist countries, especially for the first year 
and a half, but American thinking with regard to com- 
munism is over-simplified and blinded by emotions, and 
this simple and obvious distinction was not made. 

As a result, the Cuban Communists were given an im- 
portance all out of proportion to the reality. Some of us 
kept warning from the beginning that this played right 
into their hands. It was exactly what they needed to build 
them up and to attract adherents. The psychology of 
Fidel Castro and the other young revolutionaries was such 
that the more they were attacked for being Communists, 
or the dupes of Communists, the more difficult it became 
to oppose communism if they wanted to. For Fidel, es- 
pecially, to turn against the Reds would have seemed like 
truckling to the United States, yielding to American at- 
tacks, and he would rather have his throat cut than do 

In Cuba, nothing was more helpful to the Reds than the 
fact that the American press, radio and television, Con- 
gress and many American diplomats and businessmen 
conceded victory to the Communists long before they had 
won it. We surrendered before we had begun to lose. 



The first, and probably most damaging, major attack 
in this field came from Stuart Novins of the Columbia 
Broadcasting System on May 3, 1959. The material had 
been gathered in March and April The theme was that 
"this Cuban island is today a totalitarian dictatorship and 
is rapidly becoming a Communist beachhead in the Carib- 

It was nothing of the sort at that time. Because it be- 
came more or less that, one gets the appearance of ac- 
curacy and prescience. Yet, anyone studying the text of 
the telecast then and now, knowing the facts or even 
using common sense, will see that the arguments Novins 
was using to "prove" his thesis were feeble to the point 
of ludicrousness. This was true of all the commentators 
and correspondents who harped on this theme from the 
beginning and who now say: "We told you so." 

The historian will not have such an easy time of it and 
there is no validity, today, in saying: "What's the dif- 
ference?" It might have made a lot of difference if there 
had been more understanding in the formative stages of 
the Cuban Revolution. This is aside from the desirability 
of keeping the record straight. 

As I remarked earlier, it will never be possible to figure 
out the extent to which the young Cuban leaders wanted 
Communism and the extent to which they were forced 
into reliance on Communism. Those who were closest to 
Fidel Castro in 1959 could feel assured that neither he 
certainly, nor, with some doubts, any of the men in posi- 
tions of control were Communists, and that they had a 



Cuban revolution, not a Communist revolution. This will 
surely be the verdict of history. 

However, it was always obvious that there were many 
Communists at secondary and lower levels. They naturally 
supported the revolutionary government from the begin- 
ning. Fidel, on his part, was making a revolution in which 
he had to attack the conservative, propertied, business 
classes on the Right. He asked why he should gratui- 
tously attack the Communists on his Left when they were 
supporting him and when, as he confidently believed, they 
were weak and unimportant? He wanted to unite all the 
forces of the Left. 

This was the position for many months, until he and 
his top advisers became convinced that the answer to 
their revolutionary problems lay in the methods of totali- 
tarian communism. I would place the final decision on 
this, so far as Fidel was concerned, in the late summer 
or early autumn of 1960. So far as Che Guevara and Raul 
Castro were concerned, it would have come sooner and 
they undoubtedly influenced Fidel. 

His early calculations were logical and understandable. 
He did not want a Communist revolution and I know 
what a low opinion he had of the Cuban Reds. He was 
not underestimating them personally, with the possible 
exception of Rafael Rodriguez, but he was underestimat- 
ing the efficiency, skill and experience that lay in the 
Communist technique. 

I suppose I was one of the first to warn him and all the 
young leaders of that danger, for I began in January, 
1959, and was hard at it the last time I saw Fidel, which 



was in August, 1960. The most effective argument, I 
thought, was to impress upon them all that they could 
have a Cuban revolution, or a Communist revolution, but 
not both. I pointed out that the Reds were not working 
for Cuba or for Fidel and that their revolution was not his 
revolution. I was myself underestimating the danger, be- 
cause I believed that the young revolutionaries recog- 
nized these threats and would fight against them in the 
showdown. I now think it is possible that they can have 
a communistic type of revolution that is also Cuban and 
Latin American. 

The argument that the Cuban Reds had helped Batista, 
not the 26th of July Movement, was beside the point, in 
the same way that there was no use pointing out how the 
trade-union leaders had supported Batista. Fidel needed 
the urban workers and he thought he needed the Reds. 
The Communists really were useful to him in 1959. That 
was safe so long as he did not become dependent on them. 

Fidel and I always spoke frankly to each other and he 
took criticism from me that no one else would have 
dared to utter. He knew that I was sympathetic, under- 
standing and a friend, and since I was old enough to be 
his father, he respected my age. He is a normally poor 
listener, but he used to listen to me and to my wife when 
we were both in Havana. 

I mention this simply to bolster my argument that Fidel 
Castro had no desire or intention to go the Communist 
way until events, pressures, perhaps necessity, drove him 
that way. It was not a previously calculated or aa in- 
evitable development. 



Historians will have to ask themselves how much the 
American attitude and policies helped to force Fidel Cas- 
tro in this direction. If this was what he wanted all along, 
there was nothing the United States could have done to 
prevent it. If he did not, as many of us believe, then the 
position taken almost from the beginning by the Ameri- 
can press, radio, television, Congress, Pentagon, State 
Department, the business world and so forth, helped to 
build up communism and drive Cuba irresistibly into the 
Communist corner. 

There were forces at work in this Cuban drama beyond 
the control of the Castro regime or of Washington. The 
leader of any revolution conjures up a storm, and it soon 
becomes a question whether he is directing it or being 
driven by it. 

The revolutionary chief who wants to sail between the 
Scylla of the United States and the Charybdis of the So- 
viet bloc, as Premier Castro did, has an infinitely harder 
task than President Nasser of the United Arab Republic 
in a similar situation. Nasser did not have an internal 
situation like Cuba's; his choice was not so limited; his 
Communist party was of no account, and his social revo- 
lution was not nearly so drastic. In the pinch, he did not 
become completely dependent on the Soviet bloc, eco- 
nomically, as Fidel Castro has been forced to do. 

Here in the United States, since the Second World War, 
there has been a tendency to equate revolution with com- 
munism. We were saying, in effect: the Communists are 
revolutionaries, the Cubans are revolutionaries; therefore 



the Cubans are Communists. They were, with secbndary 
exceptions, nothing of the sort, but the belief persisted. 

Fidel Castro never realized the intensity of American 
fears, distrust and dislike of communism. No Latin 
American understands this, because the cold war has 
never affected the area directly. Moreover, the Cubans 
forget that the United States has kept its enemies away 
from the Western Hemisphere since 1815. Unlike the 
Europeans, we are not psychologically adjusted to having 
formidable enemies across a river or a boundary line. The 
mere threat of communism on our doorstep in Cuba was 
enough to set up a powerful reaction in the United States. 

Americans do not realize it, but their attitude toward 
communism is just about unique in the world. Europeans, 
whose danger from communism is greater than ours, con- 
sider us positively hysterical on the subject. It is little 
short of idiotic that we should think communism is a 
great internal menace in the United States. McCarthyism 
had the abnormality of a disease, just as its contemporary 
equivalent of John Birchism has. 

The shadow of Guatemala hung over Cuba from the 
beginning. The Guatemalans, in 1944, had overthrown a 
typical Latin American dictator, General Jorge Ubico. 
The major economic role in Guatemala was played by the 
United Fruit Company and bananas. The young revolu- 
tionaries were liberal, radical, nationalistic but not, in 
those early stages, pro-Communist. They were simply 
tolerant of the Reds. 

The Communists worked cleverly; the Americans stu- 
pidly. We put ourselves in the position of opposing social 



reforms, leaving the field to the Reds. As in Cuba, our 
diplomacy was appallingly amateurish and reactionary. 
The Communists gathered strength; we registered alarm. 
The Central Intelligence Agency set to work. We realize 
now the extent to which Secretary John Foster and his 
brother, Allen Dulles, used to work together. 

Here, too, a hostile and ill-informed American press 
helped to create an emotional public opinion. This, in 
turn, worked on Congress and, ultimately, on the State 
Department. Other factors were, of course, at work in 
Guatemala, but the American attitude would, by itself, 
have had the effect of strengthening the Guatemalan 
Reds and making a United States reaction inevitable. 

We intervened by helping an obscure Guatemalan 
Colonel, Carlos Castillo Armas, to overthrow the Arbenz 
regime. It was easy because the Guatemalan Army had 
not been subverted by communism, as some of us were 
trying to make the American public and State Depart- 
ment understand. That wise statesman, Jose Figueres, ex- 
President of Costa Rica, felt sure the Guatemalans could 
have handled the problem by themselves if we had been 
more sensible. 

Instead we mobilized all our efforts and propaganda, 
pistol-packing American Ambassador included, and ar- 
ranged to throw President Jdcobo Arbenz and the Com- 
munists out. (Let it be said in passing that Guatemala's 
social and economic problems are yet to be solved; it is 
one of the many countries where the United States fears 
an attempted Fidelista revolution. ) 

It should have been crystal clear that Cuba was no 



Guatemala, that the Cubans were not Guatemalans and 
that Fidel Castro was not Jacobo Arbenz. If the CIA was 
looking at anything crystal it was a crystal ball. 

Fidel Castro and the others knew that elements in the 
United States would want to repeat the Guatemalan ex- 
perience. Although its effect on our Latin American rela- 
tions and the Latin attitude toward us remain very bad, 
the event was rated as a triumph for Allen Dulles and the 
CIA, and our newspapers still treat it as such. 

A number of writers have tried with varying success 
to analyze the process whereby Cuba went deeply into 
the Communist camp. The Communists have a technique 
for such situations and it was applied skillfully. They 
work from the bottom up through key features like educa- 
tion, trade unions, police, the army. 

The three top leaders, as I said before, were not Com- 
munists, but two of diem Che Guevara and Raul Castro 
were pro-Communist. Fidel, I believe, was instinctively 
and by conviction anti-Communist for a long time. The 
main factor, with him, was that he did not care much 
what the Communists did. The business of keeping the 
Revolution and the country going was so fantastically 
burdensome that he at first put the Communist problem 
in a minor category. 

I had seen something like this happen in Spain during 
the Civil War. Premier Juan Negrin was no Communist 
and had no intention of allowing the Reds to get control 
of the key points of governmental power, but aside from 
that he did not care what they did. Because the Soviet 
Union was the only country helping the Spanish Loyalists,, 



the Reds became more and more powerful internally. 
This, also, is what has happened in Cuba (and Che 
Guevara warned me early that it could happen). 

For the purposes of this book, the basic facts to keep 
in mind are simple enough. This was, essentially, a revo- 
lution without a doctrine. At the beginning there was a 
vague philosophical content labeled "Humanism," but it 
was not original or precise enough for formulation as a 
system. In these matters, as Vilfredo Pareto, the Italian 
sociologist, pointed out a long time ago, you first have the 
concrete fact and then the abstraction. In the case of 
Cuba, the concrete facts, as they were performed oppor- 
tunistically from day to day, led into the abstraction of 
Marxism (a special form of it) and the methods of totali- 
tarianism, communistic style. 

The Cuban Revolution has been taking form day by 
day under fierce pressures and with a desperate sense of 
haste. It could not invent any new philosophy. Anyway, 
Fidel Castro never was an original political thinker. 
Moreover, it was a revolution without a party and that, 
too, was a reason why the Communists were able to move 
in so effectively. In theory, Fidel could have developed 
the 26th of July Movement into a one-party system such 
as Mexico has with her Institutional Revolutionary Party 
(PRI) but, as I pointed out before, Fidel knew or 
thought that middle- and upper-class elements in the 
26th of July Movement would not go for the radical social 
revolution he had in mind. This left the field clear for the 
Communist party. A forthcoming merger of the two groups 
was announced by Fidel on July 26, 1961. The "United 



Party of Cuba's Socialist Revolution" is a creature of the 
Communist wing, not of the 26th of July Movement. 

In this matter of communism, as in everything else 
connected with the Cuban Revolution, one must avoid 
over-simplifying. The factors and pressures that drove the 
Castro regime into the Communist camp were enor- 
mously complicated. Besides the features mentioned, 
there was the whole complex of relations with the United 
States, the historic factors, the economic problems, the 
pressures of the cold war and by no means least, the 
character of the young men making the Cuban Revolu- 

I say they had no intention or desire of making a Com- 
munist revolution. For all of 1959, Cubans put a sup- 
plementary stamp on their letters to the United States 
with these words in English: 

Our Revolution is NOT COMMUNIST 
Our Revolution is HUMANIST 

The Cubans only want the right to an education, 

the right to work, the right to eat without fear, 


At the trial of Major Huber Matos, commander of the 
Camaguey garrison, for treason in December, 1959, 
Premier Castro protested: 

"Ours is not a Communist revolution. Ours is, I admit, 
a radical revolution probably the most radical in Cuban 
history." He also said that his regime was "neither scien- 
tifically nor theoretically communistic." He had said the 



same things, even more strongly, during his trip to the 
United States in April, 1959 and he meant them. 

A year later, Fidel was talking differently, but these 
were honest statements at the time they were made. It 
was, in fact, nearly a year later that Che Guevara made a 
sensationaland often misquoted statement on Marxism. 

"On the question of whether we are Marxists or con- 
sider ourselves to be Marxists," he said in a speech, *1 
can tel you the following. If a man falls out of a tree a 
number of times, he makes certain deductions, draws cer- 
tain conclusions, and on the basis of these, he may be 
considered a Newtonian. 

"In precisely this way, we have made certain dis- 
coveries about the underlying conditions that relate to 
our situation. If these principles that we have deduced 
are Marxist principles, then in this sense it is possible to 
call us Marxists." 

Che is no doctrinaire. I have never met anyone who 
more strikingly embodies the characteristics of the rebel 
than the Argentine, Ernesto Guevara. He instinctively 
rebels against society, country, Church and every other 
institution. It never was necessary to interpret his ideas 
and actions in terms of communism. His life, his charac- 
ter and the events in which he participated all put him 
on the Communist side, but if circumstances change he 
will have no emotional or intellectual problem whatever 
in becoming anti-Communist. He called himself, in an 
interview with Laura Bergquist of Look magazine, pub- 
lished on November 8, 1960, a "pragmatic revolutionary." 

So far as I could see, his one and only loyalty sincere 



and overriding was his admiration and affection for 
Fidel Castro. This dates back to their first association in 
Mexico when the landing was being planned. Che is far 
and away the most intelligent of the men around Fidel, 
and he has the un-Cuban characteristic of being well or- 
ganized in his work. He is unquestionably the most in- 
fluential person in Cuba aside from Fidel Castro, but it 
must never be forgotten that his power and influence on 
events are delegated by Fidel He has gained his position 
because of his abilities and persuasiveness, and because 
his ideas conform to Fidel's. 

Raul Castro likewise gets his power and influence from 
Fidel and would be nothing without his older brother. He 
is unattractive and unpopular, but a first-rate administra- 
tor. Both these young men are intensely anti-Yankee, for 
different reasons, and both were pro-Communist from 
early student days. The fact that Raul attended a World 
Youth Festival organized by the Communists in Prague, 
when he was twenty-one, and that he spent a few months 
behind the Iron Curtain at the time, has been taken by 
Americans, naively, as "proof " that he was Communist. 
As with other matters, one can argue that Raul Castro 
might as well have been Communist, but this is another 

At the Huber Matos trial, during his testimony, Raul 
Castro said "[if] at any time the Communists place them- 
selves against the Revolution, we will fight the Com- 
munists/' Of course, the Reds would not and did not. 

What was more to the point was a statement Che 
Guevara made to some Australian journalists in Havana 



on July 13, 1960. While Cuba is grateful to the Soviet 
Union, he said, any attempt by the Russians to establish 
a Communist satellite in Cuba "would be resisted to the 
last drop of blood/' 

This should not be doubted, although, of course, the 
contention that Cuba is a Communist satellite lies at the 
heart of the United States policies toward the Castro re- 
gime. I would deny it in the sense that the Castro Gov- 
ernment takes no orders from Moscow, often, in fact, 
disconcerts Moscow by its policies, and because I feel 
sure that the young Cuban revolutionaries did not fight, 
as they saw it, against "Yankee imperialism" just to fall 
under the yoke of Russian imperialism. 

On the other hand, the way events and our policies de- 
veloped, the Castro regime became dependent on the 
Soviet bloc, especially after we cut off their sugar import 
quota in July, 1960. At the same time the Cuban leaders 
convinced themselves that something similar to the Com- 
munist methodssomething they called "Socialism" pro- 
vided the answers to their problems. 

"Every day my admiration for Lenin grows/' Fidel 
Castro told K. S. Karol in an interview that appeared in 
the English weekly, the New Statesman, on May 19, 1961. 
"The more I know about his work and his life and above 
all the more I understand the revolution, the more I 
admire Lenin. Only now can I grasp the difficulties Lenin 
had to overcome and the magnitude of the heritage he 
bequeathed humanity. . , . It's not the same thing to talk 
about revolution in theory and actually to carry one out 


So, by 1961, Cuba had become (to coin a word) com- 
munistoid. It was not communism as Moscow and Peiping 
understood it, but it was communism as Washington un- 
derstood it. It was not socialism as understood and prac- 
ticed in Great Britain and Western Europe, but it was a 
form of socialism. 

It had borrowed its ideas and methods from Iron Cur- 
tain Europe, but it remained a Cuban and Latin Ameri- 
can revolution. Above all, it remained Fidel Castrc/s 


Fidel Castro 

No ONE CAN know the Cuban Revolution who does not 
know Fidel Castro. I had a unique opportunity to get to 
know him, to have his confidence, respect, friendship, 
even his ear all of which, obviously, made no difference 
to what he did or what he believed. I wish I could say 
that I influenced the Cuban Revolution; it would have 
been a very different revolution if I had been able to. 

Not that I tried, especially, but it was impossible not 
to argue or to say and write what I believed. Many people 
thought that Fidel would listen to me, and only to me. 
He would listen and then do what he always had it in 
his mind to do at that particular time. 

One of the minor aberrations of the first weeks of the 
Revolution in January, 1959, was an attempt not by me 
to get me named United States Ambassador to Cuba. 
Among the Havana newspapers that picked up the idea 
was El Pais, run by Guillermo Martinez Marques, ex- 



President of the Inter-Ainerican Press Association. On 
January 13, 1959, the Havana Post ran a front-page story: 

Jules Dubois, Chicago Tribune correspondent currently in 
Cuba, went on record yesterday as endorsing Herbert Matthews, 
editorial writer of The New York Times as United States Am- 
bassador to Cuba to fill the spot vacated by Earl E. T. Smith. 

Dubois, President of the Committee on Freedom of the 
Press of the IAPA, sent his recommendation in a cable to Vice 
President Nixon and several other high Washington officials. 

Others receiving a copy of the Dubois cable included Press 
Secretary Hagerty and Senators Morse and Aiken. 

Commenting on the recommendation Matthews said: "It is 
the gesture of a friend but I don't think it possible or con- 

In fact, it was impossible and would have been quite 
wrong, although I take a sardonic pleasure now in look- 
ing back on the episode. Actually, it is important for an 
envoy to be uncommitted. Considering how involved I 
had become, I am sure I would not have been a desirable 

There was a point, however, in seeking an ambassador 
who understood what had happened and who had the 
respect and friendship of Fidel Castro. I have often 
thought that Cuban-American relations could have taken 
a different turn if we had had such an envoy in the first 
six months or more of 1959. But diplomacy is not like 
that any more. 

In any event, the important factor then, and later 
never sufficiently grasped in the United States was the 
overwhelming role that Fidel Castro played. It really was 



his revolution, as I stated before. He has been driven by 
the force of events outside his control, but he has also, 
himself, been the^ major driving force of the revolution 
inside Cuba. It was within his power to give the revolu- 
tion, to a considerable extent, the direction, the pace, the 
tone and the intensity that it has taken. 

In the United States he was underrated, ridiculed and 
misunderstood, and we have paid a heavy price for this 
folly. One of the things for which I can genuinely claim 
credit in this Cuban affair is to have recognized from ifeef 
beginning, up in the jungles of the Sierra Maestra on 
February 17, 1957, that this was a man of remarkable 
qualities. A week after he reached Havana in triumph I 
wrote for The Times s "News of the Week" section: 

"Whatever one wants to think, everybody here seems 
agreed that Dr. Castro is one of the most extraordinary 
figures ever to appear on the Latin American scene. He is 
by any standards a man of destiny/* 

This was the period, just before the executions of the 
"war criminals" began, when the American press was 
praising and romanticizing Fidel Castro as if he were a 
knight in shining armor who had come to Havana on a 
white horse and who was going to make democracy, bring 
social justice but otherwise let things go on as before. 
Some of this rosy aura still hung around Fidel when he 
came to the United States in April, 1959, at the invitation 
of the American Society of Newspaper Editors. That, his 
efforts to please and his terrific personality brought him 
a truly friendly reception. 

So, Americans have been saying ever since: "We 



praised and welcomed him at first; we wanted to be 
friends, but look at the way he treated us!" 

In reality, Americans were welcoming a figure who did 
not exist, expecting what could not and would not hap- 
pen, and then blaming Fidel Castro for their own blind- 
ness and ignorance. All of us have much reason to feel 
reproachful and critical about many of the things Fidel 
has done. The revolution has not gone the way we hoped, 
but with knowledge and understanding, one could always 
realize why things happened the way they did, what 
forces were operating to make developments understand- 
able, and how that incredible young man must have felt 
and thought to act the way he did. 

"All the world's a stage" and we have to take these 
leading characters as they come on, watch them, applaud 
or hiss until the curtain goes down. 

Then, a soldier, 

Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, 
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, . . . 

Fidel Castro was born with some of the wild qualities 
that we ascribe to jungle animals like lions and tigers. 
His rebelliousness, essentially, is not against; it is an ex- 
pression of independence, freedom, pride and power the 
power to be alone, at the top, and to meet all challengers 
with a ruthlessness and cruelty that is amoral, almost im- 
personal. In this one respect, I thought Fidel to be like 

I mentioned before how the manager of the United 
Fruit Company's vast sugar plantation in Oriente Prov- 



ince, adjacent to the property owned by Angel Castro, 
Fidel's father, told me of remembering Fidel as a child- 
wild, husky, unruly, one of a healthy brood that swarmed 
over the farm lands, 

The father, Angel, was an immigrant from Galicia, 
Spain, who started as a piek-and-shovel worker on the 
United Fruit plantation. By hard work, thrift and shrewd- 
ness he acquired property of his own and it was on his 
sugar plantation that the sixth of his nine children, Fidel, 
was bom on August 13, 1926. The family prospered, so 
much so that he was able to send his children to the best 
schools and when he died in 1956, each child is believed 
to have inherited more than $80,000. 

Fidel attended the Jesuit preparatory school of Belen, 
in Havana, where his teacher, with remarkable presci- 
ence, predicted greatness for him in his graduation report. 

A picture of him at that time was given to Eric Sevareid 
in Rio de Janeiro and published in a column in the New 
York Post on May 15, 1961. It was one of those flashes 
that illuminate a whole character and is reprinted here, 
with permission: 

The other night I sat in a Brazilian patio with a Cuban 
lawyer who had gone to school with Castro. He told me the 
story of 16-year-old Fidel and the mountain: 

"So the professor said to me, you go and talk Fidel out of 
this crazy notion to climb the mountain. So I went to Fidel 
and in 30 minutes he had talked me into joining his expedition. 
So two of us rode the train with Fidel three, four hours. We 
got off at a village. Where is the mountain, Fidel?* we asked 
him. 'This way/ he said, 'Just follow me/ So we walk, we walk 
all night. In the morning there is no mountain. 



"We walk all day. At night there is still no mountain and we 
have to sleep, 'How do we sleep here in the jungle?' we ask 
Fidel. We have all these tents/ said Fidel. We struggle with 
the tents and say, "Fidel, how do we make the tents work?' 
And he shrugs his shoulders and says, 'How do I know about 
tents?* So we lie on the ground with the canvas over us like 
blankets. In the morning we have no food and Fidel says, "We 
find food some way, I guess/ So we eat some fruit on the way, 
but we are very hungry. We walk all day again and sleep the 
same way but we find the mountain/' 

"Did you climb it?" I asked. 

"Of course we climb it. You cannot stop Fidel, you cannot 
argue with Fidel. But the thing was when we get down, we 
find there is a smooth road right from the railroad to the foot 
of the mountain. This Fidel, he gets where he is going, but I 
tell you, he never knows how, he don't care how; to make 
plans is a bore to Fidel. He just goes, goes and you got to go 
with him, or too bad/' 

Fidel entered Havana University in 1945, at the age of 
nineteen, in the Faculty of Law. Put charitably, he was a 
wild young man, but his enemies never put it charitably. 
During an interview with President Batista in June, 1957, 
I asked the General if he ever considered coming to terms 
with Fidel Castro. 

"Mr. Matthews," General Batista replied, "do you seri- 
ously believe that after all the crimes this man, Castro, 
has committed, beginning in his student days when he 
killed two men, and continuing in Mexico, as well as 
Cuba, the Government should forget his acts and enter 
into political deals with him? It is difficult to believe that 
anyone, save a few of Castro's admirers, would expect the 
Government to sit down with this criminal and work out 



an arrangement which would grant him special privileges 
because of his past crimes/' 

Fidel is also accused of having been a Communist since 
his student days, with special reference to the fact that 
he and a fellow student were in Bogota in April, 1948, 
during the great uprising known as the Bogotazo. This was 
during the Ninth Inter-American Conference when Sec- 
retary of State George C. Marshall headed the American 
delegation. At the hearings of the Eastland-Dodd Senate 
Internal Security Subcommittee the Bogotazo kept being 
brought up, especially by our ex-Ambassadors. It was 
sarcastically or reproachfully wondered how I could have 
written so favorably of Fidel Castro knowing, as they 
said, that he always had been a Red. 

Of course, I knew nothing of the sort, but I did know 
what there really was to be known of these episodes in 
Fidel's youth, having naturally checked on them as early 
and as often as I could. 

At Havana University Fidel was a close friend of Emilia 
Tro, one of the founders of the Union Insurredonal Revo- 
lucionaria (UIR), a terrorist organization. During Cas- 
tro's association with the UIR he was arrested several 
times in connection with political murders allegedly per- 
petrated by the group, but he was never held or con- 
victed of any crime. Tro was killed in September, 1947, 
during a factional dispute within the UIR and soon after- 
ward Fidel left the organization. There is no evidence, 
as Batista put it, that "he killed two men" or killed any- 
body. He was in Havana at this period and the police 
would hardly have let him get away with murder. 



Incidentally, 1947 was also the year In which the 
twenty-year-old Fidel took part in the abortive Cayo 
Confites plot against Generalissimo Trujillo of the 
Dominican Republic. The Cuban Government broke the 
expedition up before it got away from the Cuban coast 
and Fidel had to swim to freedom. 

I saw an intelligence report of this period which de- 
scribed Fidel as "a typical example of a young Cuban of 
good background who, because of lack of parental control 
or real education, may soon become a full-fledged gang- 
ster." This was a period of Cuban history, during the 
presidency of Prio Socarr&s, when gangsterism flourished. 
Actually, Fidel never was the gangster type. 

The Eogotazo came in April, 1948. I have a photostatic 
copy, from the files of the Cuban National Police, of a 
document dated March 15, 1948, on the stationery of the 
University Student Federation (FEU). It is headed (in 
my translation): "First Steps of the Latin American 
Movement Against the European Colonization of This 
Continent/* The text lists seven points of a resolution 
launching an "anti-imperialist struggle" and deciding to 
send three student delegations to a number of Latin 
American countries to prepare for an Inter- American Con- 
gress the following October. 

**To carry out this project," reads Point Six, "prepara- 
tory sessions will be held beginning the first week of 
April, with the object of preparing our theme, as well 
as other aspects connected with the organization of said 
Congress. The sessions referred to will take place in 
Bogota and with that in mind the Student Federation of 



Cuba will arrange an agreement in Colombia whereby 
that city [Bogota] shall be the seat of the preliminary 

It was noted in the final point that the preparatory 
student meeting would coincide with the Inter- American 
Conference and thus have a Latin American audience. 
The two Cuban students chosen were Fidel Castro, who 
was President of the Law School student body, and Rafael 
del Pino (whom Fidel was to have sentenced to thirty 
years in prison as a counter-revolutionary in 1960). I see 
little reason to doubt that there was some Communist 
inspiration behind the Movement and the proposed Con- 
gress, since there usually was in such cases, but this did 
not make the two youths Reds. They indignantly denied 
being Communists, or having any connection with Com- 
munists, on their return to Havana, and no proof was 
ever adduced to the contrary. 

The charges that Fidel knew there was going to be an 
uprising and that he helped to prepare it are quite simply 
absurd. The Colombian Government employed Scotland 
Yard to make an investigation of the Bogotazo. The re- 
port of the mission, which was headed by Sir Norman 
Smith, for some reason was not published until April 11, 
1961 thirteen years after the event. It brought out the 
fact that the assassination of the Liberal Party leader, 
Jorge Eliecer Gaitan, at one twenty in the afternoon of 
April 9, 1948, was done by a lunatic, Juan Roa Sierra, who 
had no connection with any of the three political parties 
Liberal, Conservative or Communist. 

It was this incident that sparked the uprising for which 



the Communists were blamed by Secretary of State 
Marshall and almost everybody else. What happened 
was that the Reds took advantage of the mob fury 
aroused by the assassination of a popular figure during a 
period of political tension between the Liberals and Con- 
servatives. (The Government of the time was Conserva- 
tive. ) 

Fidel had a boyish crush on Gait&n, and Sir Norman's 
report brought out the remarkable coincidence that Cas- 
tro and del Pino had an appointment with Gait&n for one 
o'clock on the afternoon of April 9. It was never kept, of 
course, Gait4n being still out in the street taking part in a 
demonstration when he was killed. 

Jules Dubois of the Chicago Tribune was in Bogota for 
the conference and hence was an eyewitness to the dra- 
matic events of the next few days. The account he gives 
in his book, Fidel Castro, absolves the two Cuban stu- 
dents of any role in organizing the uprising that followed 
or of any connection with the Communists in Bogota. 

Sir Norman Smith's report bears out this interpretation. 
Castro and del Pino reached Bogota in the last days of 
March, he wrote, and put up at the Hotel Claridge. (The 
report continually refers to them as "los dos Cubanos* 
the two Cubans.) They had made a nuisance of them- 
selves at a cultural meeting in the Teatro de Coldn on 
the night of April 3 by showering leaflets containing 
propaganda against the United States from the balcony 
of the theater into the orchestra. When the police checked 
on them the next day they found that the two youths did 
not have proper Colombian visas in their passports, al- 



though they had registered on the day they entered the 
country. They were told to report to the Police Head- 
quarters on April 5, which they neglected to do. When 
their hotel room was searched, more propaganda leaflets 
were found. The young men were located the next day, 
April 6, $nd taken to the Prefecture of Security where 
they were admonished and told to stop their hostile acts. 

(Let us note in passing that already in 1948, at the 
age of 21, Fidel Castro was anti- Yankee and agitating 
against "Yankee imperialism.") 

During the Bogotazo he and his companion, Rafael del 
Pino, got hold of arms and were seen by the police shoot- 
ingat whom or what was never ascertained. Sir Norman 
Smith's report says they returned to their hotel on the 
night of April 9 "bringing a large quantity of arms and 
staying there for many hours, talking on the phone, in 
English, with various people/' This must have been del 
Pino, who had American as well as Cuban citizenship. 
Fidel spoke no English at the time and still has no fluency 
in the language. 

The two youths stayed at the Hotel Claridge until the 
thirteenth, when they took refuge in the Cuban Embassy. 
Evidently, the Colombian police were after them. The 
head of the Cuban delegation to the Inter-American Con- 
ference was the well-known lawyer-diplomat, Guillermo 
Belt, who not only gave them refuge but arranged for 
them to fly back to Havana in a cargo plane that had 
brought pedigreed cattle to Bogota. Belt was to regret 
this act of kindness later. 

In spite of his wildness, Fidel stayed at the University 



of Havana and studied enough to get degrees in Law, 
International Law and Social Sciences. Hence his right 
to be called "Dr. Castro/ 7 

After graduation in 1950, he began a law practice and 
specialized in defending men and women whom he con- 
sidered to be the victims of social injustice. He joined the 
Partido del Pueblo Cubano, better known as the Ortodoxo 
party, then headed by his hero, Eddy Chibds. Fidel was 
standing for election to the House of Representatives 
from Havana Province as an Ortodoxo candidate when 
General Batista staged his successful garrison revolt. He 
tried in vain to take legal action against Batista and then, 
typically, turned to action. 

This was when he organized and led the mad attack 
with about 165 young men, nearly all university students 
and the two girls, Haydee Santamaria and Melba Her- 
nandez, on July 26, 1953. About this oft-told story it is 
only necessary to keep a few facts in mind for our pur- 

Of the hundred-odd men in Castro's force killed by 
Batista's soldiers, only ten were killed in the attack. The 
others were slaughtered in cold blood after surrendering, 
some after torture. Abel Santamaria's eyes were torn out 
and brought to his sister, Haydee, to get her to talk 
which she did not do. 

Fidel escaped to the Sierra Maestra where he was not 
saved by the Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Monsenor 
Enrique P6rez Serantes, as the persistent myth has it. 
Orders were out to kill Fidel on sight but the young 



Lieutenant, Pedro Sania, who captured Fidel, disobeyed 
orders and brought him in alive. 

After eleven weeks, incommunicado, Fidel was put on 
trial alone before the Tribunal de Urgenda in a room of 
the Hospital Civil, on October 16, 1953. The public was 
excluded except for a few reporters who could publish 
nothing, because of the censorship, but who took down 
Fidel's long and impassioned self-defense stenographi- 
cally, word for word. One of the journalists gave a copy 
of the speech to "a group of Cuban intellectuals united 
by common sympathies and admiration" who first pub- 
lished it in June, 1954. It is the now famous exposition of 
his revolutionary ideas, as well as his defense, known for 
its concluding words: "History will absolve me." 

Fidel, Raul Castro and some other survivors were sen- 
tenced to fifteen years* imprisonment and sent to the Isle 
of Pines. In May, 1955, lulled by internal apathy, follow- 
ing a farcical presidential election, General Batista gave 
an amnesty to all political prisoners, Fidel Castro in- 
cluded. By a curious process of reasoning, the fact that 
Fidel's life was spared by Batista, along with some others, 
is put forward by many American commentators who 
ought to know better as evidence that Batista was more 
civilized and merciful than Fidel Castro, who executed 
Batistianos and some counter-revolutionaries. The slaugh- 
ter of the captured students in the 26th of July attack, 
and the fact that in the two years of the insurrection 
Batista had thousands of Cubans killed, often after tor- 
ture, is conveniently forgotten. 

Fidel went right on with his revolutionary activities but 



soon had to flee to Mexico. In October, 1955, he went to 
the United States on an organizational and fund-raising 
tour for his 26th of July Movement. After Fidel had made 
some speeches in New York and Florida, the Cuban Gov- 
ernment protested and the United States immigration 
authorities cut short Fidel's stay and canceled his visa for 
future visits. 

The amount of funds and arms he received from the 
United States during his insurrection in the Sierra Maestra 
has always been exaggerated. American authorities, quite 
properly, did their best to prevent the shipment of arms, 
and generally succeeded. 

It was from Mexico, in November, 1956, that Fidel 
Castro made the almost disastrous "invasion" landing of 
December 2, which took him into the Sierra Maestra. 

A revealing picture of the Fidel Castro of his Mexican 
period was drawn for the Mexico City magazine, Hu- 
manismo, in the January-February issue of 1958. It was 
written by Teresa Casuso, who was a member of the 
Cuban Embassy staff in 1956. She later became a delegate 
for the Castro Government at the United Nations, but 
broke with Fidel in 1960 and afterwards wrote some very 
different and harsher judgments about her former hero 
and his revolution, The first article was about Mi Amiga 
Fidel Castro. 

"If Fidel were preparing a voyage to Mars," Teresa 
Casuso wrote, "and you did not want to go to Mars, keep 
away from him. Because, otherwise, you would soon find 
yourself on the way to Mars, And what is more, you might 
get there. . . . 



"I have seen him in love. . . . He is the perfect lover. 
. . . He is so masculine with women that he makes them 
feel beautiful and satisfied in his company, even just as 
a friend. ... He has the physical resistance of a Titan. . . . 
Physically, as well as mentally, he is very healthy and 
athletic. He swims like a champion; his only vice is to 
smoke cigars; he doesn't drink alcohol. Although he likes 
women very much and very normally, he is hopeless in a 
party. And he does not even know how to dance!" 

"Fidel," Teresa concludes, "is like a dormant volcano." 

The volcano exploded, much to the dismay of Teresa 
Casuso and a great many other admirers. As is the habit 
with volcanoes, it was uncontrollable. 

In those two years in the Sierra Maestra, at least, Fidel 
Castro showed a patience and self -discipline that no one 
believed he possessed. The insurrection, with its tri- 
umphant entry into Havana on January 8, 1959, was noth- 
ing less than an epic. Whatever else history does to him, 
that much can never be taken away. 

My wife and I caught up with him in Camaguey on his 
wildly joyous progress from Oriente Province. On the 
night of January 12 we saw him again at Camp Columbia 
and I sent this interview to The Times the next day: 

The only word that adequately describes Fidel Castro's con- 
dition at the moment is groggy. Uninterrupted work and public 
adulation over four grueling days has made him punch drunk. 
Last evening, talking intimately to him, one got a sense that 
for the first time he is appalled by the weight of the burden 
now placed on his shoulders. It seemed as if he had just 



realized that his life from now on is not going to be his and 
that he must live constantly in a goldfish bowl. 

"I haven't had a minute to myself" he complained "They 
won't leave me alone. Thousands of things are brought to me 
that I do not know about. When I tried to get away from the 
crowd by going from one place to another in a tank, people 
climbed into and on the tank with me before I knew it. 

"I am one of those people who live in the present. It isn't in 
my temperament to plan what I am going to do after I finish 
the task in front of me. . . ." 

As the writer was taking his leave Dr. Castro introduced four 
young bearded soldiers from Las Villas Province who had been 

"You see," he said in despair, "these are my comrades in 
arms whom I've been trying to see and they have been wait- 
ing for me for thirty-two hours. How can this continue?" 

At the end, as we stood up, Fidel asked what I thought of 
what had been happening. I said it was wonderful and a great 

"Back in February, 1957, when I saw you," I said, "I wrote a 
lot of good things about you and the 26th of July Movement/ 1 

<C I did not disappoint you?" he interrupted. 

"No," I replied "and that was the greatest satisfaction of all 
for me." 

It was, indeed, a great satisfaction, although I have 
had some disappointments, as well as satisfactions, since. 

Germ&n Arciniegas, Colombia's noted historian, jour- 
nalist and diplomat, in an interview with El Tiempo of 
Bogota, printed on February 2, I960, gave expression to 
one widely held point of view about me and Fidel Castro 
in Latin America. 

"Before leaving our country" [to take up his post as 
Ambassador to Rome], El Tiempo wrote, "German Ar- 



ciniegas told ns that he had received a letter from Her- 
bert Matthews of The New York Times. The great jour- 
nalist of that newspaper was the first to interview Fidel 
Castro in the Sierra Maestra. He gave so much publicity 
to the heroic struggle that many people called the con- 
flict against the Batista dictatorship "Herbert Matthews' 

"Matthews, in his letter to Arciniegas was still defend- 
ing Fidel Castro the Fidel Castro of today. 

"Arciniegas, in talking to us, made this comment: It is 
the case of a father who does not want to recognize the 
errors of his son/ * 

As a matter of fact, I can see plenty of errors, and the 
last time I saw Fidel in Havana he conceded that he and 
his associates had made many mistakes. 

As I was saying from the beginning, no one knows the 
Cuban Revolution who does not know Fidel Castro. Yet 
his is a character of such complexity, such contradictions, 
such emotionalism, such irrationality, such unpredicta- 
bility that no one can reaEy know him. 

The men who make history have to be extraordinary 
men. The man in the street, the journalist, the opponent, 
are tempted to dismiss such men in their lives by applying 
comforting labels such as paranoiac, megalomaniac, 
manic-depressive or in our day, depending on the politi- 
cal complexion Communist or Fascist. 

This is a waste of time with Fidel Castro. He is not 
certifiably insane; he is certainly not a Fascist, and it is 
most unlikely that he was, or is today, a Communist. He is 
himself, and he fits no category, although one can get 


some vague help from the knowledge that he is a Galician 
Spaniard by blood, a Cuban by birth and upbringing and 
a creature a very wild creature of our times. 

He will be written about as long as historians write 
about hemispheric affairs. No single person has made 
such a mark on Latin American history since the Wars of 
Independence ISO years ago. Yet there will be no unani- 
mous analysis of his character, not 100 or 200 or 500 years 
from now. 

I would not for one second compare him with Queen 
Elizabeth I or Napoleon in importance, but Elizabeth was 
an example of a towering figure working in the fiercest 
light of publicity in her day and she is, and always will be, 
an enigma to history. She was to her closest associates. So 
will Fidel Castro be. Historians still argue whether Napo- 
leon was motivated by greed for power and glory, or 
really had the ideals of the French Revolution at heart, 
In the same way, historians are going to argue whether 
Fidel Castro wanted to cany the Cuban Revolution into 
the Communist camp, or was forced to do so by American 
policies and attitudes and the compulsion of events be- 
yond his control. 

One of the baffling facts about the Cuban Revolution, 
therefore, is this fact that it is Fidel Castro's revolution, 
and he is an emotional, incalculable force. One may be 
sure they are as puzzled about him in Moscow and 
Peiping as they are in Washington. 

Several versions of what Nikita Khrushchev said to 
John Kennedy about Fidel Castro at the Vienna meeting 
in June, 1961, have been circulated. One highly reliable 



source in Washington told The Times that the Russian 
Premier said he had little use for Castro and considered 
him "romantic and unreliable/' All accounts agreed that 
Khrushchev clearly indicated he could not and did not 
trust Fidel. 

The best story I heard, because it seemed so apt, was 
told to me by a Latin American statesman. Khrushchev is 
supposed to have said to President Kennedy: "Fidel Cas- 
tro is not a Communist, but you are going to make him 

Fidel's very instability, his emotionalism, his irrespon- 
sibility, his volatile character his defects, in short- 
were our opportunities if we had known how to make 
use of them, or had had the wisdom to do so. Each year 
since 1957 there has been a different Fidel Castro to deal 
with, yet each year each day, in fact he is treated as if 
the ideas he holds then and the policies he is following 
will not or cannot change. 

One hears a great deal nowadays about the charismatic 
leader, a term invented by the sociologist, Max Weber. 
No doubt the term is abused and used too loosely, but I 
have always felt that Fidel Castro is a perfect example 
of the charismatic leader, one whose authority rests upon 
a popular belief in qualities like heroism, sanctity, self- 
sacrifice, even in superhuman, miraculous powers. He is 
the object of hero worship and, in turn, he demands blind 
obedience of all. There is a primitive, irrational quality 
in charisma. 

For Theodore Draper, who has written acutely but not 
always understandingly of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel 



Castro is one of "the greatest pseudo-Messiahs of the 
century." Yet it was on this basis of his charisma that 
Fidel Castro got absolute power in Cuba. Of course, he 
has been losing worshipers with the passage of time, as 
he knew he would (he told me and my wife that as early 
as March, 1959 ) and he has acquired other, more material 
and effective instruments of power, but he was born with 
the qualities that have made him one who has had a 
greater effect on the Western Hemisphere than any other 
single figure in Latin American history. 

Obviously, he has an extraordinary magnetism. When 
he went to Caracas, Venezuela, a few weeks after his 
triumph, the tremendous popular emotions aroused fright- 
ened the Venezuelan Government. 

I remember saying to him back in February, 1959, a 
month after he came to power, that men with this re- 
markable gift can do a lot of good, like Gandhi, or a lot 
of harm, like Hitler. 

"How can such a gift, as you call it," he said wonder- 
ingly, *T>e dangerous in the hands of one who lives only 
for the people, who has no strength except in popular 

This conviction of the righteousness of everything he 
does is basic to his character. He is always certain that he 
is doing good, that he is morally, as well as practically, 
right In the case of the attempted exchange of tractors 
for Cuban prisoners in June, 1961, there was not the 
slightest understanding on his part of our sense of moral 
shock As Jaime Benitez of the University of Puerto Rico 



puts it, "moral Coventry does not much affect those who 
do not see morality in the same terms." 

Fidel, as I remarked before, fits the description a con- 
temporary Frenchman gave of Robespierre: "You may 
laugh at him now, but that man will go far; he believes 
every word he says." 

But let no one underestimate the true and fine char- 
acteristics that go with the weak ones. Fidel's idealism is 
genuine. So is his passionate desire to do what is best for 
Cuba and the Cuban people. If he fails it will not be 
because he is an evil man, as Hitler was, or because he is 
a Communist playing a double game; it will be because 
of mistakes, misjudgments, amateurishness, emotional- 
ism, fanaticism. 

Those of us who were in touch with him and were 
watching him from the beginning had to ask ourselves if 
Lord Acton's famous dictumthat all power tends to 
corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely would 
apply to Fidel. 

Alas, it has! Acton, of course, was not thinking of 
material corruption. For anyone who knows Fidel Castro 
that is unthinkable. Acton meant a spiritual corruption. 

The Strongest Poison ever known 
Came from Caesar's Laurel Crown. 

as William Blake wrote. 

One sees it in the case of Fidel in the way he became 
more and more autocratic. He was power hungry, and 
the appetite grew by what it fed on. All his life he had 
to be Number One the captain of his basketball team 



at school or the Jefe Maximo (the Chief Leader) of Cuba. 

He takes no advice. He brooks no opposition. Anyone 
who gets in his way is broken with complete rathlessness. 
He is too dedicated and fanatical a revolutionary to feel 
gratitude or loyalty to people whose loyalty to him 
weakens, whatever they did for him in the past. 

Two spectacular examples of this occurred in 1959 with 
the brutal elimination of the man whom Fidel, himself, 
had chosen for President, Judge Manuel Urrutia Leo, and 
the imprisonment of Major Huber Matos, Commander 
of the Camaguey garrison, who had been one of Fidel's 
most trusted guerrilla leaders during most of the Sierra 
Maestra period. 

Urrutia had shown what was considered to have been 
incompetence and a lack of sympathy for the revolution. 
He was also too openly anti-Communist to suit the 
Premier. Fidel's move was positively Machiavellian. On 
July 17 he suddenly resigned and that night made a 
nation-wide television and radio speech accusing the 
President of near treason. Urrutia, shocked and in tears, 
resigned an example of a child of the revolution being 
devoured by its creator. 

The case of Huber Matos was even more revealing, and 
is considered by some students of the Cuban Revolution 
as a watershed. In my own opinion it was a logical, al- 
though reprehensible, development, and perhaps even 

Matos, like many other officers and members of the 
former civic resistance, had watched the growing strength 
of communism in the Army with alarm. He tried to argue 



the matter out with Fidel, but Fidel would not listen or 
even see him. So, on October 19 Huber Matos presented 
his resignation. The next day he was arrested, charged 
with "treason," and in December was tried, convicted and 
sentenced to thirty years in prison, with Fidel Castro him- 
self as the bitterest accuser. 

Put thus baldly, it was an utterly shocking business 
but a revolution is not a tea party, and a great deal hap- 
pens in revolutions that is shocking. Matos had won over 
many other officers in the Camaguey garrison to his point 
of view. Had he had his way, the defections would have 
been very serious. It was a dangerous moment for Fidel 
and the Revolution, and he struck hard and definitively. 
From that time on everyone was on notice that Castro 
was not going to let anybody oppose him and the revolu- 
tion he was making. In this respect, one might say that 
the Huber Matos case did represent a watershed in the 
Cuban Revolution. 

At all periods since my Sierra Maestra interview with 
Fidel Castro, I have been approached by Cubans at 
critical and dramatic moments for my intervention, and 
this was no exception. I was never in a position to inter- 
vene and I never tried, but I always answer letters, and 
to one Cuban who wrote me at the time I said that the 
case "involves the very delicate and essentially subjective 
problem of what is or is not treachery during a revolu- 

By the logic of the Revolution, Huber Matos was a 
traitor. Those who condemned the outrageous way he 
was treated, had to condemn the Revolution. 



There were many similiar cases the first year. Ex- 
President Jos4 Figueres of Costa Rica had sent arms to 
Castro in the Sierra Maestra (the first time by Huber 
Matos, incidentally) and had in many ways given in- 
valuable support to Fidel. Yet when he went to Havana 
in April, 1959, Fidel Castro did not meet him, did not 
receive him and, after "Pepe" Figueres had made a 
speech arguing for friendly relations with the United 
States and warning against communism, Fidel called him 
"a bad friend of Cuba, a bad revolutionary.'' 

Governor Luis Munoz Marin of Puerto Rico was an- 
other valuable and influential friend of the young rebels 
who has been treated in a most outrageous way by Fidel 
Castro. He and his Government are under daily attacks of 
the worst sort a "stooge" of the United States, a "tyrant" 
Cuban policies are to back the infinitesimal Puerto Rican 
independence movement in the most vociferous way. 

President Romulo Betancourt of Venezuela was still 
another case in point. All these men are too wise, too ex- 
perienced and too generous not to understand the reasons 
behind Castro's insults. From the beginning he attacked 
all friends of the United States, democratic or dictatorial, 
in the hemisphere, and soon he was attacking every single 
government, since all of them naturally feared Castro 
revolutions in their countries and were anti-Fidelista. 

There was always method in Fidel Castro's madness, as 
everyone who knew him would have realized. One of 
Fidel's early ephemeral supporters in the United States 
was Congressman Adam Clayton Powell of New York. 
Powell evidently thought at first that he could get some- 



thing out of the Revolution, but he was quickly disabused. 

"Fidel has just gone to hell/* he told a friend on return- 
ing to Washington from Havana in March, 1959. "He is on 
benzedrine, still keeps on his twenty-one and twenty-two 
hour days, but the problem is to find him! He disappears 
completely for two days at a time. He has taken up with 
a very pretty widow; spends a lot of time with her. 

"I'm scared of Castro. He's like a madman. His old 
friend Rufo Lopez Fresquet [Minister of the Treasury] 
cried while listening to that crazy speech ordering those 
aviators retried, 'He's been destroyed/ Lopez Fresquet 
kept saying, over and over." 

That "crazy speech" was one of the first evidences that 
Fidel Castro had no conception of what was normally 
considered justice, and also that he was utterly ruthless. 
Forty-three airmen from the Batista Air Force had been 
acquitted by a military court in Santiago de Cuba at the 
beginning of March. Fidel called the acquittal "a grave 
error/' and ordered the men retried by a new tribunal 
with the clear understanding that the airmen were to be 
sentenced to prison as they were. 

If Fidel had taken up with "a very pretty widow" at the 
period, as is quite possible, that would not have lasted 
any length of time. Fidel Castro has no intimate friends. 
He loves women, not any one woman. 

He was married on October 12, 1948, to a pretty young 
girl from Oriente Province, Mirtha Diaz Balart, sister of a 
college mate of Fidel's, Rafael Lincoln Diaz Balart Both 
the brother and the father, Rafael, Sr., were Batistianos. 



They opposed die marriage. A son, Fidelito, was born on 
September 1, 1949. 

Fidel, it need hardly be said, was not much of a hus- 
band. Mirtha divorced him while he was a prisoner in the 
Isle of Pines in 1955, and married Emilio Nunez Blanco, 
son of Dr. Emilio Nunez Portuondo, Chief of the Cuban 
delegation to the United Nations. In December, 1956, 
Fidelito, then living with two sisters of Fidel in Mexico 
City, was seized by Cuban agents, acting under direct 
orders from President Batista, and spirited away to his 
mother in Cuba. He later spent a year at a school in 
Queens, New York. After Batista fled, Fidelito shared his 
father's triumph, but Fidel has let him grow up quietly 
out of the public eye. 

The one woman who has really meant a great deal in 
Fidel's life is the faithful Celia Sdnchez, and it would be 
difficult to say just what she does mean. Celia is the 
daughter of a physician of Pil6n, near Manzanillo in 
Oriente Province at the foot of the Sierra Maestra. She 
was in the 26th of July Movement when Castro and the 
eighty-one men landed in the Granma on December 2. 
In fact, Celia had been waiting for Fidel up in the moun- 
tains since November 29 and she has been by his side 
ever since. 

It is true that he sleeps in four or five different places 
in Havana, partly for safety's sake, but most nights he is in 
Celia's apartment. She is a brave, simple, gentle, pious 
creature even though she fought courageously in some 
skirmishes in the Sierra. Celia is a bit older than Fidel, 
very feminine but not sexy, with a fine, delicate, appeal- 



ing but not beautiful face. She is devoted to Fidel, utterly 
loyal, and watching them together one gets the impression 
that her feelings are more maternal than anything else, 
but this is her secret and Fidel's. 

In the United States, and by embittered Cuban exiles, 
Celia Sanchez is labeled as a Communist. To anyone 
knowing her this seems utterly absurd; there never was a 
creature less political or less interested in politics than 
Celia Sanchez. 

So far as she was concerned, Fidel could do no wrong. 
Devotion and loyalty were qualities that Fidel Castro 
has not only craved, but demanded. With him, it is all or 
nothing, for or against. There is no compromise, no middle 

He often acts like a man with a sentence of death 
against himassassination. It would have been easy to 
assassinate him, presuming the one who did it was pre- 
pared to die. However, his Cuban opponents and evi- 
dently the American Central Intelligence Agency always 
realized that matters would be worse, in Cuba and so far 
as the United States was concerned, if Fidel were killed. 
As Dr. Benitez put it: "There are times when a live 
demagogue is infinitely preferable to a dead martyr.'' 

The image of Fidel would be more potent throughout 
Latin America dead than alive. This is aside from the 
fact that he, alone, holds the fabric of Cuban society to- 
gether and without him it would break down into chaos, 
anarchy and a blood bath fearful to contemplate. 

The American image of Fidel Castro, incidentally, has 
no relation to the Cuban or Latin American one, Ours was 



created at the time of the executions of the "war crim- 
inals," which began in mid-January, 1959. Since then, 
Fidel has been a brutal, bearded monster to Americans, 
with an early addition of the greatest of all political sins 
to Americans the Communist taint. Once a public image 
is created, it becomes indestructible good or bad. The 
good image of Dwight D. Eisenhower has never been 
diminished in the United States, although many of us 
feel he turned out to be a poor President. An image of 
that type becomes a myth. The potency of such a myth 
was pointed out brilliantly early in the century by the 
Frenchman, Georges Sorel. It operates in Fidel Castro's 
favor within Cuba and against him in the United States, 
but they are two different myths, two images. 

The reality might resemble neither picture. Fidel, for 
instance, works at demoniac speed. One would think 
from what one reads about him in the United States that 
he spends most of his time fighting guerrillas, preparing 
forand repelling invasions, raving against the United 
States on television or before mass meetings. Actually, he 
works eighteen or twenty hours a day at miming his 
revolution, and most of aU with the agrarian reform. 

It is true that he does seem to be burning himself up. 
One continually wonders whether any human being can 
live long at such a fever heat, well or ill, working so hard, 
sleeping so little, consumed with emotions, burning the 
candle at both ends with a fierce flame. 

Such men cannot change or be changed. Professor C. 
Wright Mills of Columbia University used a clever phrase 
in describing Fidel's personality "he does not know 



limits/* It has also been said of him, and with a good 
deal of truth, that he does not count the cost of his 

The well-known joke has for a long time been applied 
to Fidel about St. Peter hastily summoning a psychiatrist 
up to Heaven where God is pacing up and down mutter- 
ing: "We've got to throw the Old Testament out of the 
Bible. We must change the Ten Commandments. Those 
Psalms have to be rewritten/'^You see/ 7 St. Peter says 
to the psychiatrist, "He thinks He is Fidel Castro/' 

Theodore Draper, in an impressive article for the Eng- 
lish magazine, Encounter, reprinted in June, 1961, by the 
American weekly, the New Leader, draws a picture of an 
almost humble, self-reproachful Fidel Castro. It is drawn 
largely from an interview Fidel gave to the correspondent 
of the Italian Communist newspaper, UUnita, in Febru- 
ary, 1961. In it Fidel confesses to a sense of ideological 
inferiority with regard to the Communists. However, the 
uneasy and intelligent Draper adds: "I cannot suppress 
the feeling that the new, self -critical Fidel is totally out 
of character/' 

Indeed he is! If there is anything inconceivable about 
Fidel, it is a genuine sense of humility. That he never 
possessed and never will. 

The average or normal or ordinary person, and also 
older, experienced men, figure out what they would do 
in a given situation or what ought to be done, and then 
expect Fidel Castro to do it. But characters like Fidel are 
not normal and do not think along customary lines or act 
as other people do. Fidel's actions are unpredictable, 



especially as he does not confide completely in anybody. 
His motives are not always clear. 

He is impetuous and, as I said, highly emotional, the 
reverse of a cold and calculating thinker. In this, in- 
cidentally, he is muy espanolvery Spanish. He relies on 
intuition, instinct, flare, guided if at all by a very con- 
siderable intelligence. It is extraordinary that his intelli- 
gence should be so underrated in the United States, as if 
any man could have accomplished what he accomplished 
and be transforming the whole Western Hemisphere and 
still be unintelligent. 

He has genius, of course. As the French would say, he 
is an original. There is nothing of Hamlet in his character. 
And there is no use trying to outguess him, as he probably 
does not know himself what he is going to do next. He 
has been called a deceiver, a liar, a traitor to his own 
revolution by opponents who quote what he said at one 
time, and point to the fact that he is doing the opposite. 

The most effective expression of the TDetrayaT thesis, 
as a matter of fact, came in the United States White Paper 
of early April, 1961, in which the theoretical American 
groundwork for the coming invasion was laid. 

The charge made is that "the leaders of the revolu- 
tionary regime betrayed their own revolution, delivered 
that revolution into the hands of powers alien to the 
hemisphere. . . .* 

The key passage of the White Paper reads as follows: 

The positive programs initiated in the first months of the 
Castro regime the schools built, the medical clinics estab- 
lished, the new housing, the early projects of land reform, the 



opening up of beaches and resorts to the people, the elimina- 
tion of graft in government were impressive in their concep- 
tion; no future Cuban government can expect to turn its back 
on such objectives. But so far as the expressed political aims 
of the revolution were concerned, the record of the Castro 
regime has been a record of the steady and consistent betrayal 
of Dr. Castro's pre-revolutionary promises; and the result has 
been to corrupt the social achievements and make them the 
means, not of liberation, but of bondage. 

Presumably, one must put aside for the purposes of this 
argument the fact that an overwhelming majority per- 
haps as much as 75 or 80 per cent of the Cuban people- 
support Castro and his revolution, and hence do not think 
that they have been betrayed. For the rest, I would say 
that the changes in Fidel's policies are better explained 
by two facts the first, that he thought he could do cer- 
tain things and then found that they were not possible, 
or were contradictory to other aims, and the second, that 
he had no concept of the true meaning of freedom and 
democracy and was never to have one. 

I confess that, like so many Cubans, I did not at first 
realize that Fidel had this complete Mind spot in his 
mentality. He still does not realize it himself. It took a 
gradual unfolding of Cuban developments to make it 
clear that so long as Fidel Castro remains in power there 
will not and cannot be democracy and freedom in Cuba. 

I am convinced that he really thought, while he was 
in the Sierra Maestra, that he could have democracy, a 
free press, elections, private enterprise and the like, and 
still have a radical social revolution that would free Cuba 



of American economic domination. He found that he 
could have democracy or revolution, but not both. He 
found that he could not be independent of the United 
States without becoming dependent on the Soviet bloc. 

Like the Sorcerer's Apprentice, he conjured up forces 
beyond his control. I am sure that he feels he has been 
true to the basic ideals he always had for a social revolu- 
tion, and that his deviations were responses he had to 
make to men and circumstances seeking to thwart him, or 
beyond his control. 

A leading Cuban banker who worked with the revolu- 
tion in 1959 said it was like operating in a fourth dimen- 
sion; it made sense, but only within a special revolutionary 
system of logic. 

Fidel Castro's dictatorship was never organized or in- 
stitutionalized, like Generalissimo Franco's, in Spain, for 
instance, unless his new united Socialist party provides 
such institutionalization. It has been a straightforward ex- 
ercise of personal power in behalf of the revolution. This 
is different from the classic Latin American military 
cauditto of the Batista, Peron, Somoza, Trujillo, Perez 
Jimenez type. They were dictators for themselves and for 
a small clique of the traditional ruling classes, all of whom 
enriched themselves by corrupt practices or who sup- 
ported the dictatorship in the name of law, order, stability 
and anticommunism. Those dictators worked to hold 
things down. They were conservatives and Right-wingers. 
Fidel Castro is Leftist, radical, dynamic. 

I said of him a long time ago you don't take him or 
leave him. Being where he is, with the power he has and 



will have as long as lie lives, and his character being what 
it is, you take him. We are going to have to live with Fidel 
Castro and all he stands for while he is alive, and with his 
ghost when he is dead. 

If there is one thing I have been harping upon inces- 
santly for more than two and a half years now, it is the 
warning that this is a very formidable young man, that 
he cannot be intimidated, not even by the United States, 
or, if it comes to that, by Russia, and that he will not back 
down or surrender. On the contrary, he has had a firm 
conviction that the only hope for Cuba was to hit back 
twice as hard for every blow he received. 

And he is tough very tough. He showed that right 
at the beginning when he executed some 550 Batistiano 
"war criminals'" in the face of loud American protests. 
These protests were well intentioned and based on a 
proper Anglo-Saxon conception of the right of all accused 
to a fair trial, whatever the circumstances; they were 
wrong in their complete failure to understand why Fidel 
Castro carried out the executions and how virtually all 
Cubans at that time approved of what he did. 

The American press is to be blamed for this failure to 
understand and explain but of that, more in another 

The executions began in mid- January and ended May 
15, 1959, when Castro ordered revolutionary war-crimes 
trials ended. American Congressmen and American news 
commentators went on writing as if the executions never 
stopped. The fact is that in almost a year and a half there- 
after only five Cubans were executed. 


Executions were resumed for "counter-revolutionary" 
crimes, but it is doubtful that as many as 100 more were 
shot by the summer of 1961. By revolutionary standards, 
this has not been a sanguinary affair. When the Reign of 
Terror ended in France on July 28, 1794, there had been 
2,600 victims in Paris alone. In the street rioting in 
Caracas, Venezuela, that followed the overthrow of the 
dictator, General Perez Jimenez, in January, 1958, some 
2,000 were believed to have lost their lives at the hands 
of wild mobs. There were no bloodthirsty mobs in Cuba, 
thanks to Fidel Castro. Batista not only killed his thou- 
sands in the two years of the Castro insurrection, but tor- 
ture was commonly used. In Castro's revolution, there has 
been police brutality, very bad prison conditions, a species 
of police terror, delationall inexcusable but there has 
been no torture. 

These facts are not given to excuse Fidel Castro, but to 
throw light on his character, to give some idea of its 
complexity and of that quality within him which "does 
not know limits/* This man is a born fighter. His courage is 
boundless; it has a mad, rash quality. He has done things 
to us Americans and said things that would have seemed 
incredible if one did not know that he is capable of any- 
thing. He certainly has done many things simply to shock 
and defy us. 

There are lots of other characteristics that could be 
noted. He is a poor administrator and a worse economist. 
He is politically astute, but the world's worst statesman; 
a demagogue, but with a genuine, paternalistic love of 



people. Yet I do not believe for one moment that he trusts 
people, not even his beloved guajifosthe peasants. 

His use of television (so frighteningly reminiscent of 
George Orwell's "Big Brother") is effective because of his 
magnetic personality and because he is a naturally gifted 
orator of the first order. After a trip to Cuba in June, 1959, 
when Fidel's oratory was at its highest and longest, I 
coined the phrase: "government by television/* 

The length of his speechesrunning as long as five or 
six hours in the early months and still taking a normal 
two or three hours aroused amusement and ridicule in 
the United States. It so happened that Cubans listened to 
Fidel from beginning to end, and anyone taking the 
trouble to read the text of his speeches would find that 
they are effective, clearly reasoned, interesting and well 
organized. Obviously, he always knows in a general way 
what points he wants to make and how he is going to 
make them. Then he cuts loose with his natural oratorical 
gifts, his fervor and passion, his vivid gestures and all the 
paraphernalia of his extraordinary personality. 

He has a unique oratorical style, so much so that any- 
one reading a passage taken at random from any of his 
speeches would know that the speaker was Fidel Castro. 

Here is the briefest example, taken from his speech to 
the tremendous mass rally on labor day, May 1, 1961, a 
few weeks after the invasion had failed. Allowances, of 
course, have to be made for the translation; Fidel's florid 
style better suits a Latin language than English. 

Besides, given certain circumstances, it is impossible to crush 
a revolution. . . . The blood that was spilled there was the 



blood of workmen and peasants; the blood that was spilled 
there was the blood of humble sons of the people, not the 
blood of big landowners, not the blood of millionaires, not the 
blood of gamblers, not the blood of thieves, not the blood of 
criminals, not the blood of exploiters. . . . 

It was blood spilled in defense of an ideal. . . . Not the ideal 
of the mercenary who sells his soul for gold to an imperial 
power, but the ideal of the worker who does not want to go on 
being exploited, the ideal of the peasant who does not want 
once more to lose his land, the ideal of the youth who does 
not want once more to lose his teacher, the ideal of the Negro 
who does not want once more to face discrimination, . . . 

and so forth and so on for an interminable sentence of 
hundreds of words that is still balanced, hypnotic in its 
repetitive rhythm, and rounded out with fine phrases: 
"because the Revolution is his Hfe, because he has iden- 
tified his life with it and his future and his hope.* 7 

Part of the reason for this incessant oratory was the 
necessity of keeping the enthusiasm of the Cuban people 
at fever pitch. This is partly the reason for the virulent 
anti-Yankeeism. In some ways one of the most important 
and one of the features of the revolution least understood 
in the United States centers around the character of the 
Cuban people. 

There are few things in the world more difficult to make 
than a social revolution. And of all the places to make one, 
I would say that Cuba is the most difficult. In speaking 
to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in April, 
1960, I said: "The Cuban people have many wonderful 
qualities; they are a superb race, but they are very in- 
dividualistic. They are a violent people, as their history 



shows. They have a curious and terrible history of spies, 
informers and traitors who may be one in millions, but if 
you follow their long and brave struggle against the 
Spaniards, you will see it dotted with the treachery of 
individuals. . . . They are a fanatical people, politically 
speaking. They never stick with any party or any man. 
They are always against the government that is in power, 
whatever government it is." 

There are many other characteristics, good and bad, 
that could be added pride, sensitivity, passion, courage, 
cynicism, intelligence, lack of restraint, lack of discipline, 
warmth, volatility. 

I could go on for a long time, but for those who know 
the Spanish race, I will end with a reminder that the 
Cubans are Spanish- Americans. A wonderful people, but 
not the type to sustain a social revolution. 

Fidel Castro knew this. He knows his people and he 
knew he was going to have to make his revolution against 
fierce and growing opposition. This explains many of his 

The older I have got in this game of watching and 
recording history, the more clearly I see how much de- 
rives from the human factors, how little one can trust to 
appearances, to surfaces, to patterns, even to logic. With- 
out the human factors there is no understanding of the 
Cuban Revolution. 

Take the simple fact that this is a revolt of youth, not 
the "youth" of the forties which we are now talking about 
in the United States, but youths in their twenties and early 
thirties. Some of us older folk have all along toyed with 



the idea that this is mainly what is wrong with the Cuban 
Revolution. Youth is idealistic, Utopian, radical, and, in 
Latin America, extremely nationalistic. It is also inevitably 
amateurish and inexperienced. Youth sows its wild oats, 
does rash things, cares little for wealth and property, is 
impatient, impetuous, callous of the suffering of the older 

It is well to keep youth in mind whenever one thinks 
about Latin America. The population in that area is grow- 
ing at the fastest rate in the world. Forty per cent of 
Latin Americans are under fifteen years of age. The 
median age in the United States is about 29.5 years; the 
average age of the Latin American is 21.5 years. The 
youth axe moving in to take over, and the first of his 
generation to do so is Fidel Castro. I do not deny that this 
is a frightening thought. 

Che Guevara, in his manual for guerrilla fighters, La 
Guerra de Guerrillas, holds that Danton's slogan is the 
right one for a revolution: "De Taudace, de faudace, 
toujours de Taudace? 

These are the enfants terrible of the Western world. 
The small group who originally got up into the Sierra 
Maestra, and those who gathered around Fidel Castro at 
the beginning, were all fanatical, dedicated, intelligent 
and loyal young men and women. Not a one of them has 
defected, although a few quit the Government, and they 
are today the leaders of the revolution. 

The excesses one sees are in part explicable by the 
rashness and inexperience of youth and in part by the 
fact that the manner of coming to power after the long, 



lone guerrilla struggle In the mountains went to their 
heads. Nothing seemed impossible. They are now, for 
instance, confidently embarked on a conflict in which 
they expect to defeat the United States. This is what 
might be called the David and Goliath complex. 

We would be naive and shortsighted not to recognize 
that these young men and women in Cuba have high 
ideals, however mistaken we may think they are in trying 
to achieve them. The young men and women being re- 
cruited for work and government jobs in Cuba are gen- 
erally inexperienced, but they are enthusiastic, honest, 
patriotic and hard-working. Many are now Communists 
and these have their special objectives, but they also want 
the revolution to succeed. They are chosen first for the 
quality of loyalty. 

These young Cubans share a distrust and even contempt 
for what free enterprise and elections meant to the Cuban 
people. They have a profound scepticism of existing in- 
terests, a suspiciousness of advice from interested quar- 
ters, an approach that is more theoretical than practical, 
a disdain for orthodoxy, an indifference to individual 
suffering or injustice if it is done for what they consider 
the good of Cuba. The original group was puritanical to 
such a degree that it set out in the beginning to abolish 
gambling, narcotics and prostitution in vain, for the most 

Fidel Castro was so old-fashioned when he first reached 
Havana he argued that interest on money was a sin. In 
many respects, these young Cubans started with ideas 
that belonged in the pre-Marxist, pre-scientific ages of 



Socialism. The acceptance of Marxist Socialism was a de- 
velopment that came with their practical experience of 

In order to complete the record, I should, perhaps, 
repeat here that in my opinion Fidel Castro never was 
and is not now a Communist. Let us dismiss this aspect 
by quoting the Deputy Director of the U.S. Central 
Intelligence Agency, General C. P. Cabell, who testified 
to the Senate Internal Security Committee on November 
5, 1959, that his organization believed that Castro was not 
a member of the Communist party, and did not consider 
himself to be a Communist. 

The young not only dream of Utopias; they believe in 
them, so these young men set out to make Jerusalem in 
Cuba's "green and pleasant land." Never in the history of 
the Western Hemisphere have young men held such 
power and so gloried in it. They are having a wonderful 
time creating a brave, new world, but creation, like birth, 
is painful and messy. 

Even now, in this fall of 1961, Fidel Castro is only 
thirty-five years old. John Kennedy is ancient by com- 
parison. We who watch Fidel and his companions would 
do well to ponder that these young men and women 
could be riding the wave of the future in Latin America. 
Think, when you see Fidel Castro in the newsreels, and 
hear his hoarse, impassioned voice, that you may be 
seeing and hearing a prophet. Should we say a prophet 
of doom? 

I spent the whole day of his thirty-fourth birthday with 
him, August 13, 1960. He was then recovering from an 



illness that led to the wildest sort o speculation by 
American correspondents and the American press. Had 
they been in contact with him or with his close associates 
they would have known that all he had was virus pneu- 
monia, followed by a typically nasty reaction to the anti- 
biotics pumped into him. 

The morning after his birthday 1 wrote out for myself 
an account of the day we spent together which, I believe, 
will give an idea of what sort of a person Fidel Castro is, 
I am reproducing these notes here exactly as written; not 
a word has been changed or taken out. 

Stepping out of the elevator a little past midnight at the 
Banco Nacional I walked into him, literally, as he was stand- 
ing right in front with his back turned. He was cordial but 
disconcerted, he said, to meet me so casually when he had 
wanted to come and see me at the Hotel Nacional. After 
chatting a little, he said he had to go home because the 
doctors insisted he must have seven or eight hours sleep but 
we made an appointment for the coming day. "I don't like 
just to sit and talk. We will go out into the country toward 
Pinar del Rio. I'm more interested in dhickens > sugar and 
agrarian reform than in the OAS." 

"Major Fajardo, his Negro military aide who has taken the 
place of Yanes (they said that Yanes, aside from being for- 
givably a terrific ladies man had been using INRA money for 
his private purse Fidel forgives a lot in his associates, said 
Nunez Jimenez who told me this, but not dishonesty), came 
for me a little before ten and took me to Celia Sanchez's 
apartment, 1007 llth in Vedado, a shabby little apartment 
house with the usual sloppy rebel soldiers on guard at the 
entrance, up one narrow flight. The apartment was furnished 
from their house at Pilon, Celia's blonde, younger sister who 



does not remotely look like her, told me. Celia came in, dressed 
in a flossy, floor-length., light-blue organdy gown with blue 
ribbons at the waist and neck. The room was uncomfortable, 
untidy, without the slightest taste, with chromos on the walls, 
It must look like thousands of middle-class, middle-income 
homes in Cuba. This is where Fidel sleeps most of the time 
when he is in Havana. 

While waiting briefly for Fidel we talked about the Sierra. 
She said she had gone up on Nov. 29th, [1956] the day before 
Fidel was supposed to land, and waited for him. She knows 
and remembers everyone who had been there and promised 
to make me a list and give me her recollections, I discovered 
from her the important fact that she kept every single docu- 
ment of the whole two years in the Sierra his orders, even 
to patrols, his proclamations, declarations, texts of his Radio 
Rebelde talks, the letters he received, the messages, the nego- 
tiations with the civic resistanceeverything. They are care- 
fully sorted and wrapped in nylon and are at Cojimar. As 
historic archives of the Revolution they are obviously invalu- 

Fidel looked rested but his nervousness or restlessness was 
shown when he made a few phone calls and paced up and 
down the short length of the cord incessantly while he talked 
instead of sitting or standing still. The informality of his life 
again struck me. 

We drove off very soon and the first thing he did again was 
to apologize to me for the way we had met, which he clearly 
thought was disrespectful and must have looked as if he had 
been trying to avoid me, whereas he assured me he had told 
everybody how much he wanted to see me. 

It was obvious from the whole day's experience that his 
heart and soul and the heart of the Revolution is unques- 
tionably in the Agrarian Reform. The day was, in fact, a 
process of seeing the reform in operation with discussions 
and arguments in the car and at the end, in Pinar del Rio, on 



every topic of importance the U.S., the OAS, communism, 
defections, economics, the Church. 

I asked him what about this business of the cooperatives 
paying in chits up to 80 per cent which I had read and heard 
about often. He had been making a eulogy of cooperatives and 
was to do so several times during the day. He is convinced 
that the guajiros prefer it that way it gives them security, a 
community life (they are very sociable, he said), wages, profits, 
incentives and is more efficient for productivity, especially in 
commodities like sugar, cattle, chickens, dairies. Not tobacco 
which requires special care and skill on small farms he has 
left the industry alone thus far but from what he said about 
"problems" I suspect that something is going to be done. On 
the question of chits he laughed and said that is typical 
counter-revolutionary propaganda. "Why should we give chits 
instead of money when there is nothing to be gained by doing 
so?" He said he wanted to show me a tienda del pueblo of the 
INRA which has now taken the place of all private grocery and 
butcher stores and where goods are sold at obviously reason- 
able prices. A little later on we came upon a little one and 
dropped in. There Fidel, asking the manager about chits, 
seemed a litde surprised and disconcerted when the manager 
said, Yes, many people bring them here, and he took a batch 
out of the cash register. As it happened, Fidel was right, al- 
though it seemed curious that he had not acquainted himself 
with the process. The chits were not payment for work, they 
were loans by the cooperative concerned to workers in ad- 
vance of wages, but since the wages are paid twice a month 
and since the worker does not have to borrow if he need not, 
the process is simply a convenience. Whatever is borrowed is 
deducted from the next wage and no one is allowed to run 
over, so that the old, bad system of lifelong indebtedness does 
not apply, 

Fidel earlier had made the point that everything about the 
agrarian reform from the beginning had been done by him, 



under his orders and every payment, every check, every policy 
is his. There was no reason to doubt this, although he did not 
seem acquainted with every detail. The choice of a very 
radical type of reform instead of the one made by Humberto 
Sori Marin in the beginning was known to be Fidel's and was 
typical, as we could see later, of the extreme radicalness of the 
Revolution in every field. 

While driving along in the first hour we came upon one of 
those playas y or popular beaches, he had made for Habaneros 
sports fields, pool, beach for bathing, club house, restaurant, 
soft-drink bar, rafts, row boats. It was crowded and when they 
saw Fidel and word got around there was a pandemonium of 
joy and enthusiasm. He was almost mobbed. Nothing could 
have been more spontaneous and it was obvious that he is 
still literally worshiped. An old Negress brought along a really 
ancient crone who held out her hands to Fidel. "My mother/' 
the first one said. "You are 34 today and she is 98." Children 
galore were brought up to touch him or be patted on the head. 
What he had wanted to show me most of all, and the main 
reason for stopping there, was the menu, as he had been 
arguing that they are providing things cheaply for the people. 
It was true that the prices were very reasonable, especially 
the table d'hote which provided meals from 70 cents to $1. 
The enthusiasm of the greeting he received was typical of the 
whole day, although at the farms and cooperatives, where 
he is evidently a familiar sight, there was a very friendly 
warmth and not the excitement caused when he stops some- 
where unexpectedly. 

In all we must have stopped at six or eight farms and co- 
operatives and a number of places where construction is taking 
place for farm houses, fertilizer manufacture, incubation, 
artificial insemination and the like. Certainly, so far as the 
Province of Pinar is concerned it is wrong to say that all the 
agrarian reform has done is to take over existing properties 
and make them cooperatives. Almost all the places I saw were 


either new creations or old latifundia in process of expansion 
and improvement. Fidel and Nunez, who joined us at a poultry 
farm at lunch and stayed with us, claimed that the same sort 
of expansion and new work is going on around all the island 
and that this was typical. If one could accept their statement, 
there is no question that the reform is making progress and 
will increase productivity although whether they are doing it 
well or wisely or efficiently is another thing. Certainly critics 
of the regime are convinced not, but after what I saw I must 
retain doubts that they really know everything that is happen- 
ing. The extent to which the agrarian reform is the real heart 
of the Revolution was never impressed upon me so strongly as 
yesterday. It gives a focus and meaning to the Revolution as a 
Revolution that is so much more important than the political 
side or even the international, except as these can destroy the 

Many times during the day Fidel spoke to workers, asking 
about their problems and farms, and he heard some complaints 
two especially were strong in their complaints, one who 
argued heatedly while we were eating lunch that he couldn't 
get the water he needed, another who said that his farm was 
too small for a family of nine (Nunez said: "Why don't you 
join a cooperative?"). On the whole the complaints were few 
and contentment the rule. 

We shared a lunch with the workers at a poultry farm- 
broiled chicken, frijoles, rice and platanos fried, washed down 
with warm Hatuey Malta no drinks when one is with Fidel. 
We sat on boxes at a board table surrounded by the men who 
wanted to listen or argue, and swarming with flies but every- 
thing we ate was good and hot and plentiful. Fidel ate a large 
plate of rice and frijoles and then a whole chickennot a little 
broiler either. This was between 1 and 2 and I was to see him 
again tackle a hearty meal at 6:30 so there is certainly nothing 
wrong with his appetite. Fajardo solicitously forced him to 
take his medicine at both meals estreptodiacnil and charcoal. 



Fidel's energy has not flagged. We were in and out of the 
car innumerable times, with him striding as always as if he 
had 7-league boots and not a second to lose. The title of a day 
like that could be: "Keeping up with Fidel." His enthusiasm at 
seeing thousands of chicks or ducklings, innumerable pigs, 
sows and piglets. He never tired of watching the sucklings at 
their meals "qw espectdculo pretioso!" His thrill at seeing a 
good field of grain or sugar cane or tobacco was obviously real 
and spontaneous, because he would continually interrupt what 
he was saying as we drove along to exclaim. He is a real 
countryman. He knew and asked about every breed of pig, or 
chicken or cow, and identified every growing field instantly. 
He would have made a good farmer. 

His enthusiasm was more like someone 14 than 34. I was 
more impressed than ever with the fact that this is a revolt of 
youth. Driving back from the Campo de la Libertad airfield 
in a jeep with Nunez, he [Nunez] argued in all seriousness 
that nobody over 40 could really understand and work with 
the Revolution. The exceptions, like Roa and Dortic6s (both 
in their forties) simply proved the rule. The radicalism, the 
demands that are made for discipline, faith, courage, loyalty, 
comradeship are quite possibly beyond the capacities and 
temperament of anyone who is not young, Fidel spoke with 
anger and reproach of the defections. Raul Chibas had given 
his word of honor as an officer, he said, that he would not try 
to go away and he had received every assurance of safety. Miro 
Cardona had been friendly with them all right up to the end 
and not given an inkling of his intention to defect or even 
argued about policies. Felipe Pazos he discussed simply as 
one who could not understand or sympathize with the Revolu- 
tion, but Fidel was bitter at the idea that he was working 
against the Revolution. 

The interesting thing in all this was that Fidel is convinced 
that in every case these men were persuaded to defect by the 
United States Embassy. He feels absolutely sure about that, 


and it is part of his conviction that the U.S. was out to over- 
throw him from the beginning. His feeling applies to many 
other defectors, as he feels the Embassy has been plotting 
constantly in every way it can against him. 

"You ought to have heard the conversations with Am- 
bassador Bonsai from the beginning/' he said. "He lectured 
me, criticized us and our Revolution, complained, threatened. 
There was never the slightest understanding of the Revolution 
or sympathy with what we were trying to do. I can assure you 
I felt humiliated as a Cuban at the way I, the Prime Minister 
of Cuba, was being talked to. This was not the attitude of 
two equal and friendly nations of the OAS. This was an effort 
at dictation, direction and complaint. You ought, also, to hear 
how the Soviet representatives talk. They are friendly, respect- 
ful, sympathetic, understanding. They are not ordering us 
about, not making demands. They make us feel like a sovereign 
country. The United States Ambassador tries to make us feel 
as if we must do what the United States wants. 

(Remember Roa telling me at lunch about the delivery of 
the notes of protest on the oil refinery seizures the British 
Ambassador, so human and friendly, Bonsai "restraining his 
fury," grim-looking, stern, delivering his note with hardly a 
word and stomping out. ) 

(All this, with other things I heard, makes one wonder 
whether they are planning to break relations with the U.S. 
on the theory that they would be better off without an Em- 
bassy staff here since they are really convinced that the staff 
is plotting as hard as it can against them. Fidel, like Luis 
Buch [the President's Secretary] and others, feels strongly 
about the two FBI men they expelled. "Those photos that 
Friedemann had," he said, "from Goering and others were not 
souvenirs. They were inscribed to Friedemann and pre-dated 
the war.") 

He went into a long harangue about how respectful the 
Revolution had been of all Church rights, how he had inter- 



vened in favor of the Church in cases like Villanueva Univer- 
sity, how he had done everything he could to accommodate 
the Church. Then he asserted, like all of them, that the Church 
in Cuba had always been on the side, first of the Spaniards, 
then of the Cuban ruling classes, and that the people of Cuba 
never liked or respected their Church. "We are a religious 
people, but not a clerical one; Cubans, in fact, are anti- 
clerical." Here, too, he felt certain that the United States had 
intervened and that the Church was influenced by the Amer- 
icans. They had provoked the demonstrations in front of the 
Churches. "No revolution could have been so patient, so con- 
siderate. We know what a bad effect a conflict with the Church 
will have on our international position and this is why the 
United States took their part. However, we have no doubts that 
the Cuban people are on our side and the Church cannot turn 
them against us." Like the others, he pointed out that a large 
majority of the clergy are Spanish, which in his eyes linked 
them to Franco and to the United States policy in favor of 
Franco. Of course, he said, there are many Cuban priests who 
understand the Revolution, and have been helpful. "If it is 
necessary to engage in a conflict with the Church we will do so, 
but I hope we do not have to. Nothing will be allowed to stop 
our Revolution." 

Three or four of the farms we saw were for pigs> which 
indicates that they are going in for them in a big way. Fidel 
constantly referred to the fact that the best breeds, the best 
machinery, etc., come from the U.S. and that is where he wants 
to buy them and is buying them. "I'm going to get you the 
best breeding bulls there are," he told one farmer. When I 
asked where, perhaps Argentina, he said, No, there was hoof 
and mouth disease there; he would get them either in the 
U.S. or Canada. As I saw, there was much interest in incuba- 
tion and artificial insemination. Fidel said that in the pre- 
revolutionary days Cuban agriculture was antiquated al- 
though not in fields like sugar and the big cattle ranches. 



About six o'clock we ended up at a house on the old garrison 
grounds of Pinar del Rio. This was obviously where he had 
gone when he was moved from Havana during his convales- 
cence. We sat around talking and drinking Coca Cola. Fidel 
had smoked incessantly all day cigarettes when he was not 
smoking cigars. Fajardo told him he had to take a rest, as the 
doctor ordered. Fidel complained. "Look, Matthews is older 
than I and he doesn't need to rest." The others pointed out 
that I had not been ill a week ago and Fidel had. They sat 
down to another copious meal which I did not join, having an 
appointment at eight for dinner in town. 

Fidel was reminiscing during and before the meal about the 
Sierra and especially my trip up there. To meet me they had 
descended to the foothills and really put themselves in Batista 
territory where they knew patrols were working all the time. 
It was an even more dangerous business than I realized at the 
time, although I naturally was suspicious from the fact that we 
at all times had to talk in whispers. This was the first get- 
together in the Sierra of the 26th of July group and hence was 
more historic than I realized. After talking to me they quickly 
moved back up to the high Sierra and narrowly escaped am- 
bushes and clashes. Fidel has promised to write out or dictate 
his part in the incident. 

Nunez was going back in his INRA helicopter and offered 
to take me an hour and a half instead of three hours in a ear- 
so we left at seven. Fidel, typically, said there was so much 
more he wanted to talk about and so many other things he 
wanted to show me, especially the "pueblos/' I had seen a 
number of the new little towns being put up to go with the 
cooperatives houses, church, school, clinic, shops etc. but 
none in the region we went through had been completed. He 
wanted to show me some finished ones. I said, the next time, 
when Nancie is with me. 

It was a friendly day. What does one know of this Revolu- 
tion who does not know Fidel? 



"It was/* as I wrote, "a friendly day/" and neither I 
nor my wife has ever lost a sense of friendliness. I doubt 
we ever will, whatever he does and however critical we 
get. In ending the first of my three lectures on the Cuban 
Revolution at City College o New York in March, 1961, 
I said: 

"I would not have anything I say here, or that I will say, 
interpreted as support of the Cuban Revolution in its 
present form. 

"Yet, there is much that is good as well as much that 
is bad. Al I do say to you of this Cuban Revolution is 
open your eyes, open your minds, open your hearts. You 
need them all to understand the Cuban Revolution. If you 
understand, you will condemn and you will condone. 
You will accuse and you will sympathize. You will see that 
there is much that is evil and much that is good. 

"And if you see all that, you can criticize as much as 
you want; you would be compelled to criticize. But if 
you understand, you will feel that for all its errors, its 
injustices and its cruelties, there is something idealistic 
in this Cuban Revolution which should be preserved. 

"Those here in the United States who are trying to kill 
it, would destroy a lot of idealism, a lot of hope, a lot of 
life. The death of the Revolution as an ideal would leave 
a desolate Cuba, haunted by the ghosts of an ignoble, 
wicked past. 

"But it would also be haunted by the ghosts of Fidel 
Castro and the young men who were with him, who 
destroyed this sinful past, who tried to build something 



"I do not think, myself, that this Revolution can or 
will die. It has the vigor of a creeping vineor you might 
think, of noxious weedsbut it has vigor." 

From very early in the game, it had been my contention 
that the Cuban Revolution was shaking the Western 
Hemisphere the way the French Revolution shook Europe. 
In an editorial I did for The Times, printed on June 21, 
1960, we said: 

"What is happening in Cuba and because of Cuba is, 
without question, the most important, dynamic and fate- 
ful development in Latin America since the Wars of 
Independence 150 years ago." 



The Hemisphere 

SOMETHING NEW, EXCITING, dangerous and infectious has 
come into the Western Hemisphere with the Cuban 
Revolution. Latin America has had hundreds of political 
and military revolutions in the last century and a half, 
and it has had two isolated social revolutions in Mexico 
and Bolivia, but it has never had anything like this. 

"Fidelismo challenges the structure of the established 
Latin American universe," Professor K. H. Silvert, one of 
our leading Latin Americanists wrote in a paper for the 
American Universities Field Staff on January 29, 1961, 
"its distribution of economic, social and political power, 
its accommodation with the Church, its set of relation- 
ships between the person and the world in short, its total 
self -conception/* 

A drastic social revolution, the massive pressures every- 
where in Latin America for social justice, the cold war, 
and an extraordinary young man have given the Cuban 



Revolution an importance unequaled by any event in the 
Western Hemisphere since the Wars of Independence, A 
new era began on January 1, 1959, when the Cuban in- 
surrection triumphed. The excitement has been world- 
wide. Americans would be astonished, if they could see 
the interest in, and the sympathy for, the Cuban Revolu- 
tion in Europe and the Middle East. 

History never operates in a vacuum. It is often likened 
to the flowing of a river. At some time, the modern con- 
cept that a man has a right to a decent life whatever his 
color, wherever and to whomever he was born, was bound 
to approach the point of overflowing in Latin America. 
When that point was reached it only needed an upheaval 
and the man, to make it come to the flood. 

This is what Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution 
have done, and if I may belabor the analogy, let me 
point out that rivers do not flow backward. The flood will 
subside, but we will al be sailing in a different place and 
toward an unknown shore. 

There are so many more elements at hand now to make 
Latin American revolutions! They used to be done by 
handfuls of military officers backed by their garrisons 
or by a rabble. The mass of the population was unaffected 
and did not care. Now it is the poverty-stricken, ignorant 
masses in Latin America who provide the decisive weight, 
or at least, the decisive threat. 

The social awakening of these masses is the significant, 
new feature of hemispheric life. The population explosion 
the highest rate in the world is bringing intolerable 
pressures. It demands of an underdeveloped, largely 



agricultural region that it raise production fast in order 
simply to stay in the same place. It drives peasants, liter- 
ally by the millions, from their rural communities with, 
their ancient, immutable, immemorial ways of life, into 
the slums of great cities, where they provide a wretched, 
bewildered ferment for the radicals and demagogues. 

Everywhere there is a potentially revolutionary mass. 
Nowhere is there a mature, liberal, stable, democratic 
nation in our sense of these terms. By themselves, the 
masses might proliferate in apathetic misery, but this is 
the 1960's, and politics works in some ways almost as if it 
responded to physical laws. Where there is a revolutionary 
mass, there will be revolutionary leaders. 

In modern times, revolutions are always led by the 
middle classes, and one of the striking features of social 
life in Latin America in recent decades has been the 
growth of the middle class. It is even becoming what 
some Latin Americanists are calling "the middle mass." 
This is the element that made the Cuban Revolution as it 
made the French, the Mexican, the Russian and other 
modern social revolutions. They get their ideas from 
totalitarian democracy or liberal democracy, from Marx- 
ism or the Enlightenment, but what is new today are the 
mass communications media which in Latin America 
convey these ideas to the peasants in once remote regions 
of the sierras, the jungles, the coastal lowlands, the valleys 
of the Andes and also to the illiterate, wretched urban 
proletariat of the mushrooming slum areas in the great 

Keep the broad outline of the Latin American picture 



in mind. To be sure, every Latin American country is 
different from every other, and if I treat the region in this 
book as if it contained one nation, it is only because I am 
extracting general features. The needs, desires and hopes 
of a Cuban sugar worker, an Indian agricultural laborer 
in the Andes, a Brazilian squatter in the Amazon valley 
are the same. The cold war that has now entered the 
hemisphere is the same cold war we have been fighting 
everywhere else since 1945. Latin America is an under- 
developed region and all underdeveloped countries have 
similar problems. 

There has been and in most respects the situation is 
still unchanged in Latin America the long background 
of feudalism, militarism, the small ruling classes, the social 
imbalances, the agrarian and mineral economies. 

The dominant hemispheric power wasand is the 
United States, with its Monroe Doctrine, its power and 
wealth, its democratic, capitalistic, free-enterprise system. 

On this traditional structure has come the impact of the 
contemporary world, bringing demands for more effective 
governments, for industrialization, for social justice. With 
this goes the realization that poverty, ignorance and dis- 
ease are not necessary. A popular assault is being made 
against economic oligarchy as well as political dictator- 

So the people of Latin America or their spokesmen in 
the middle class ask: Who is to blame and who will sat- 
isfy our demands? 

These are the challenges that have been given a form 
and a voice by Cuba, The blame in Cuba is put upon the 



Cuban governing classes and upon the United States. 
The satisfaction is now being sought in a Leftist, non- 
democratic, socialistic-type system allied to communism. 

We hoped and believed that our capitalistic, free-enter- 
prise, democratic system could be developed in Latin 
America. The Cuban Revolution jarred us into a real- 
ization that we have not yet succeeded. As President 
Kennedy said to the Latin American diplomats in March 
of this year: "Our unfulfilled task is to demonstrate to the 
entire world that man's unsatisfied aspirations for eco- 
nomic progress and social justice can best be achieved by 
free men working within a framework of democratic in- 
stitutions." It may be that we are deluding ourselves, and 
that we will, at best, have to settle for an intermediate, 
compromise solution, democratic enough, free enough, 
non-Communist if not anti-Communist, neutralist, inde- 

This would be satisfactory, but can we get even that? 
This is one of the dangers that the Cuban Revolution 
represents for us and for the other countries of Latin 
America. There are revolutionary pressures; there may 
well be other revolutions. In present circumstances, these 
revolutions would try to copy Cuba; they would fight 
under the banner of Fidelismo; the Communists would 
be partners, agitators, perhaps leaders. The revolutions 
would be anti-Yankee. 

What no Latin American country can do today, except 
the dictatorships, is to coast along, to carry on as in the 
past, to ignore the pressures for social reforms that the 



Cuban Revolution and its leader, Fidel Castro, have 

The young men of Latin America, who are now coming 
to the fore, are tougher than their fathers, bolder, more 
nationalistic, more radical, more adventurous, more im- 
patient, more demanding, more idealistic. They will not 
respond as easily to a mercenary approach, or to advice, 
or threats or pressures. 

If they get corrupted, it will be by power, or the lure 
of power, and this goal of power is, unfortunately, more 
easily reached by the swift drama of revolution, than by 
the slow, plodding, unromantic way of evolution. We ask 
patience, economic orthodoxy, civic virtues, discipline, 
democratic elections, sacrifices by the privileged for the 

"Priorities will depend not merely on need/* President 
Kennedy said to Congress in explaining his new program 
for Latin America, "but on the demonstrated readiness 
of each government to make the institutional improve- 
ments which promise lasting social progress/* The chances 
of getting voluntary acceptance of these sacrifices by the 
governing classes is, I am afraid, less than Congress, or 
perhaps even the White House, realizes. 

And we ask Latin Americans to forget the past. We, 
with common-sense maturity and Anglo-Saxon phlegm, 
asked Fidel Castro and his fellow Cubans to forget what 
had happened before January 1, 1959, as we forgot what 
Germany, Italy and Japan had done to us when the 
Second World War ended. 

But these were young and passionate men. In a sense, 



one could say that Fidel Castro is taking revenge on 
behalf of generations of Cubans, and on behalf of all 
Latin Americans. 

There is also a Messiah complex. Fidel has all along 
felt himself to be a crusader, if not a savior. He is out to 
achieve a "second liberation" of Latin America. The first 
was from Spain. This one is from "Yankee imperialism.'* 
Fidel sees himself as the champion, not only of the Cuban 
agricultural workerthe guajiro but the Guatemalan and 
Peruvian Indians, the Puerto Rican workers, even the 
American Negroes. 

One of the most striking and dismaying features of the 
Cuban Revolution was the way in which it quickly found 
itself in conflict with almost all the governments of Latin 
America. This was expected, and was natural in the case 
of the dictatorships of the Dominican Republic, Haiti, 
Nicaragua and Paraguay. It came as a surprise in the case 
of the democracies and such democratic leaders as Presi- 
dent Romulo Betancourt of Venezuela, President Alberto 
Lleras Carnargo of Columbia, ex-President Jose Figueres 
of Costa Rica and Governor Luis Muiioz Marin of Puerto 

Ideologically, and because these were friendly govern- 
ments and leaders, it seemed as if the Castro regime would 
have been on good terms with them. They had all helped 
the insurgent cause and wanted to help the new revolu- 
tionary regime. Instead, they were insulted, and found 
themselves struggling against internal oppositions which 
were greatly strengthened by the Fidelistas and their new- 



found allies, the Communists. In Argentina, Fidelismo 
and Peronismo were soon working together. 

Of the so-called invasions from Cuba only one the 
two small groups that entered the Dominican Republic in 
June, 1959 had Castro's official backing. The others were 
either the work of adventurers and mercenaries, like the 
landings in Panama in April and in Haiti in August, 1959, 
or groups that evaded Cuban vigilance. Washington made 
a great propaganda splash about Cuban "expeditions" and 
keeps on doing so, but no evidence was ever brought out 
to prove that Fidel backed or even desired any invasion 
except the Dominican one. In time, he even seems to have 
made a pact of mutual forbearance with the late General- 
issimo Trujillo of the Dominican Republic. 

The reasons why the Castro regime found itself at odds 
with all the Latin American governments before the year 
1959 was out seemed logical enough. Fidel had decided 
early in the game that the United States was out to frus- 
trate, and then to overthrow, his regime. He felt sure 
that we were working in every capital to isolate Cuba 
and he realized that this was a great danger to him. As far 
as he was concerned, the Organization of American States 
was a creature of the United States, and hence his enemy. 

Moreover, he could see an obvious fact that all the 
Latin American governments feared the example the 
Cubans had set. Even the democratic countries were con- 
trolled by the type of ruling class that he had destroyed 
in Cuba. These men did not want to see radical revolu- 
tions in their own countries. 

Still another cause for conflict lay in the almost unani- 



mous criticisms of the Latin American press. The news- 
papers and radio and television networks were for the 
most part controlled by the big business, banking and 
landowning interests for whom a radical revolution like 
Cuba's was anathema, Consequently, Cuba had a unani- 
mously bad press, except for the Left-wing organs. 

The powerful Inter- American Press Association, at first 
friendly, then tolerant, became hostile when Castro gradu- 
ally repressed his own newspapers, radios, and television 
stations, and suppressed freedom of the press in Cuba. 
Fidel had foundor believed that a free press would 
weaken his revolutionary program. This had happened in 
the Mexican Revolution. With all other freedoms going 
by the board, freedom of the press had to go, too. 

We on The New York Times were as critical as anybody 
else on that score, although we did not show the same 
general sympathy for publishers and editors who had 
taken subsidies from General Batista, as was the case 
with all except La Prensa, the Havana Times and the 
weekly, Bohemia. These, too, were victimized in time by 
the regime. In any circumstances, there could be no ex- 
cuse for suppressing freedom of the press, and we always 
condemned the Castro Government's policy in that field. 

The logic of the Cuban Revolution was reprehensible, 
but it was clear. Everything and everybody against the 
Revolution represented the enemy, and was attacked. 
The ultimate in enmity became those who were friendly 
to, or who worked with, the United States. This was the 
real touchstone. 

The Organization of American States is or was before 



the Cuban Revolution the most successful of all the inter- 
national organizations affiliated with the United Nations. 
It had been hammered out over nearly sixty years, be- 
tween 1890 and 1948 when the Bogota Charter was 
drawn up. While it is true that the United States the 
Colossus of the North dominated the OAS as it did 
every feature of hemispheric life, it was an institution 
that gave authority and rights to every Latin American 
nation, however small. The doctrine of non-intervention 
was (or seemed to be) its greatest triumph. 

Fidel Castro was soon attacking the OAS as an instru- 
ment of the United States. He also verballyrepudiated 
such vital hemispheric treaties as the Rio Pact, which 
holds that an attack against one member is to be con- 
sidered as an attack against all. 

Fidel's position was open to the strongest criticism 
until we backed the Cuban invasion of April, 1961, thus, 
ourselves, flagrantly violating the doctrine of non-inter- 

As a matter of fact, the OAS has not shown itself to be 
an instrument of United States policy, as we have never 
been able to get it, collectively, to support our policies 
toward the Castro regime. Nevertheless, Fidel goes on 
attacking it. There is, incidentally, no provision in the 
Bogota Charter for the suspension of the rights of mem- 
bership or expulsion for any reason. 

As a result of these conflicts and calculations, the 
Fidelistas cultivated the opposition in every Latin Amer- 
ican country. In the nature of things, this meant the Left- 
wing, including the Communists, in each country. In 



Argentina, what was left of Peronism was in the trade 
unions the descamisados, or "shirtless ones/" who gave 
General Peron his mass support. The military element of 
Peronism had joined the Government or become Eight- 

The appeal of Fidelismo was swift and powerful. The 
Cuban Revolution, on its idealistic side, was a response 
to the very same problems plaguing every country of 
Latin America. Wherever there was poverty, misery, real 
or fancied oppression, social injustice, intellectual fer- 
ment, the lure of power, the emotions of anti-Yankeeism 
and where would there not be these things? the ex- 
ample of Cuba and the romantic, magnetic figure of Fidel 
Castro, cast their spell. 

In chemical terms, it was like the process of catalysis. 
There was a crystallization of deep and powerful social 
forces, a polarization of political movements and ideol- 
ogies, a ferment, a dynamism, a coming to life of hitherto 
dormant elements. It was as if the whole hemisphere were 
suddenly heaving and moving, responding to the natural 
forces of a storm in this case a tropical hurricane. 

The world of Latin America in this year, 1961, is very 
different from what it was on January 1, 1959, when Fidel 
Castro and his 26th of July Movement triumphed. And 
it will never be the same again. 

The United States could not get the other Latin Amer- 
ican countries, collectively, to follow its policies toward 
Cuba. For a variety of reasons, not all of them laudable, 
nations like Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, 
Peru and Paraguay followed our lead, but the major 



powers of Latin AmericaBrazil, Mexico, Chile, Argen- 
tina and Venezuela, in varying degrees and different ways 
held back. 

In aH the countries, the governments had to contend 
with considerable support for the Castro revolution among 
intellectuals, students, opposition politicians, all the Com- 
munists and Left-wingers, and among peasants whose 
leaders were impressed by Cuba's agrarian reforms. More- 
over, Fidel is doing things to, and taking up a posture 
toward, the United States that gives satisfaction to many 
among the new middle classes in Latin America. Uncle 
Sam, as they see it, is at last getting his due. 

The potency of myths in politics can never be over- 
looked. There is a real Cuban Revolution, and there is an 
image or a whole series of images of it. The United 
States version is not accepted in Latin America, Canada 
or Europe. 

"Fidelismo is an image with many faces," wrote the 
English weekly, The Economist, for April 22, 1961. "At 
its simplest it means to millions of Latin Americans that in 
a remote, but still a sister, country, a man as glamorous 
as any film star has given land to the poor, rooked the 
rich, and put the gringos in their place." 

This has more relevance to the truth than the prevailing 
North American image of a hated and hateful Communist 
police state, where the people are enslaved and the 
nation is nothing more than a satellite of the Sino-Soviet 

Fidel Castro and his Revolution are much better under- 
stood in Latin America than in the United States. He is a 



second-generation Spanish American of pure Spanish 
blood. His actions and words sometimes seem extreme 
to the point of madness to us, but the Spanish character is 
extremist. On the whole, Fidel's behavior, given the cir- 
cumstances, is considered normal or at least not espe- 
cially abnormal to millions of Latin Americans. 

On the other hand, there is no doubt that the reckless- 
ness and distastefulness of many of Premier Castro's 
policies, and especially his links to communism, his re- 
pudiation of democracy and his attacks on the middle 
class, have alienated a lot of his support thoughout Latin 
America. The situation was well put by Tad Szulc in a 
despatch to The New York Times on January 8, 1961, 

"Public opinion has been swayed against Cuba," he 
wrote, "by her ties with the Communist world, the clear 
emergence of dictatorial tactics by Dr. Castro's regime, 
the meddling in the affairs of many other republics, her 
conflict with the Roman Catholic Church and what is 
being increasingly seen here as a failure of the social and 
economic revolutionary experiment in terms of actually 
bettering the lot of the Cubans." 

This was exaggerated, I believe, but largely true, 
except for the very last statement. There is no question 
that Fidel Castro has thrown away a degree of attractive- 
ness and influence that might well have brought other 
revolutions in Latin America before this. As a purely 
Latin American phenomenon that seemed at first to carry 
the ideals of democracy and liberalism, as well as social 
reform, with it, the Cuban Revolution would have been 
irresistibly contagious. 



Its historic role, as we see now, lay in another direction, 
to challenging the hemisphere to test the methods of 
socialistic totalitarianism as an answer to the political, 
economic and social ills which beset the region. As such, 
its potential effectiveness is all the greater (and the more 
dangerous to us) but the demands it makes are so 
drastic, and our response has been so violent, that other 
nations have thus far been unable or unprepared to 
follow the Cuban example. 

The fact still remains that the pressures for social 
justice and economic development in Latin America have 
never been so powerful, and these are unsatisfied. The 
United States has finally been won over to a realization 
that the most pressing problem in Latin America is social 
development. This was recognized in a now famous speech 
by the then Under-Secretary of State Douglas Dillon to 
the conference of Economic Ministers of the OAS in 
Bogota, Colombia, in September, 1960. It is at the heart 
of President Kennedy's "Alliance for Progress" plan. 

However, there does not yet seem to be a realization, in 
the United States that satisfaction of social pressures has 
to be found in political, as well as economic responses. 
Unhappily for us, to achieve social justice, democratically, 
or by evolution, is infinitely harder than to do it by revolu- 
tion. In fact, in an underdeveloped region like Latin 
America, revolution may prove to be the only way. 

At least, the Cubans are trying to prove that it is the 
only way. It is up to us to prove that social development, 
in the circumstances faced by Latin American countries, 
can. be achieved by our democratic, capitalistic, free- 



enterprise way. The alternative is to lielp slam a lid down 
Rightist, militarist, conservative, dictatorial on the rev- 
olutionary ferment, and then to sit on it. 

There are democracies in Latin America real democ- 
racies. Costa Rica, Uruguay, Chile, Mexico, Brazil, Vene- 
zuela in their different ways and degrees are all genuine 
democracies. Nevertheless, as I stated before, not one of 
them has produced a liberal democratic welfare state 
in our understanding and practice of those terms, In de- 
fending themselves against Fidelismo today, not even the 
democratic nations of Latin America have a maturity and 
a solidity that permits them to absorb the shock of these 
new and disturbing ideas. They are shaky structures. 

The simple fact that what we call Latin America today 
was originally colonized by Spaniards and Portuguese, 
whereas the United States and Canada were colonized by 
the Engish and French, has made differences of a basic 
sort that we must never forget. Spain and Portugal went 
to the New World to exploit and convert. Their con- 
querors and settlers were religiously and intellectually 
intolerant, descendants of people who were not to know 
the Reformation or the Enlightenment, and who had no 
ideas, let alone desires, to implant democracy, civil 
liberties, or any of the arts of self-government. 

It was an aristocratic, hierarchical, autocratic system 
that did not break down for centuries. Democracy and 
social mobility were slow growths until recent decades. 

Cuba was the last of the Spanish colonies to become 
independent. The Spanish imprint remains exceptionally 
strong in Cuba, despite the great influence, attraction and 



power exercised by the United States in the twentieth 
century. Under the veneer of Americanization, under the 
subservience of the Cuban business and political ele- 
ments, lay the ineradicable and dominating inheritances 
of Spain and Africa. 

It stood to reason or it should have that faced with 
a crisis like the 1959 Revolution, Cubans would behave 
like Cubans and not like Anglo-Saxon Americans, it 
stands to reason that the rest of the hemisphere, having 
to face the Cuban Revolution and its effects, would react 
like Latin Americans and not like North Americans. 

We should never have expected them to see eye to 
eye with us about the Cuban Revolution, or about com- 
munism, or about the whole complex of problems that 
have brought them into their present political and eco- 
nomic crisis. We see their problems in our way. We know 
how we would solve them in fact we know the true and 
tried orthodox economic and financial solutions. We feel 
and believe that our political system is best of allbetter 
than communism, better than any form of authoritarian 

We ask the Latin Americans to be like us, to follow us, 
but they cannot do so, and in many respects they do not 
want to do so. Yet, in some ways there are no morally or 
practically valid arguments against what we propose. 

Latin Americans should pay fair taxes. They should 
accept a just distribution of wealth. They ought to make 
land reforms, and make sacrifices for the education, health 
and a decent standard of living of the less privileged 
people in their countries. They should give the worker a 



fairer share for his labor and give him better conditions of 

In these respects, we are not asking Latin Americans to 
do anything that we are not doing, or trying to do. We 
have a right to say that we will help only those who help 
themselves. What we cannot do is to compel any Latin 
American country to take our advice; what we cannot 
know is whether the ruling classes will want to go our 
way and will pay the price for doing so; whether there is 
still time, or whether the revolutionary forces at work will 
sweep them away. 

This is where the example of Cuba works its potent 
spell Successful or not, the Castro regime is seeking the 
answers to many of the evils that beset Latin America. 
It is redistributing wealth; it is making a land reform; it is 
concentrating on eliminating illiteracy, on raising the 
standards of health, on building homes, on diversifying 
agriculture, on industrialization in short, on social justice 
and economic development. 

But it is doing so by socialistic, totalitarian methods, not 
by democratic, capitalistic methods. This is where it chal- 
lenges us, but it is also where it challenges the ruling 
classes in Latin America. 

There could be no greater folly than to think of Cuba 
as an isolated phenomenon, or as merely an expression of 
communism at work. The ferment of modern political ideas 
is bubbling everywhere in Latin America, and Marxist 
ideas have their place in the brew. So have the liberal, 
democratic principles of the West. 

The United States, after all, took revolutionary ideas to 



Latin America. Our concepts of equality of opportunity, 
of the right of everyone to life, liberty and the pursuit of 
happiness, to a high standard of living, to social welfare, 
to education, to human rights these and other ideas by 
which we live are very revolutionary, indeed. They did 
not, in the past, or, I am afraid, even now, appeal to the 
ruling classes of Latin America, who had such different 
concepts of life and society, but they are now beginning 
to have a mass appeal. 

If there is a revolutionary ferment throughout Latin 
America as there is let us not forget our part in foment- 
ing it. And let us not be so illogical as to say that we can 
have all the freedoms, a welfare state, a fair distribution 
of wealth and a high standard of living, and we would like 
to see Latin America enjoy these fine things but there must 
be stability, order and the status quo. 

Revolutionary ideas have a tendency to express them- 
selves in revolutions. 

It is true that in some countries of Latin America the 
younger generation of businessmen, bankers and land- 
owners, have progressive, modern ideas. They have made 
a great advance beyond their parents, but they are still 
not in control and there are not enough of them. They are 
the hope of Latin America, but it is also the younger gen- 
erations who are leading the revolutionary drive, who are 
attracted by radical ideas of ten Marxist who are a prey 
to xenophobic nationalism, who see the Cuban Revolution 
as an example to be followed, and are attracted by the 
romantic figure of Fidel Castro. 

The governing classes in Latin America are not thinking 


in terms of expropriation or a totalitarian economy that, in 
their case, would be Right-wing, which is to say Fascist 
or national-socialist. There is simply a failure, thus far, to 
accept the price that would have to be paid for industriali- 
zation and land reform. The ruling classes of Latin Amer- 
ica are being called upon to make sacrifices of their wealth 
and privileges such as they never had to make in the past. 
They are called upon for a type of patriotism and civic 
virtue that was not necessary before and that was even 
outside of their ethics and their mores. 

We should not underestimate how much we and the 
social pressures of these revolutionary timesare demand- 
ing of the hereditary, traditional ruling classes of Latin 
America. The pessimism that most students of the Latin 
American scene feel nowadays is partly due to a realiza- 
tion of the magnitude of these demands. 

On the economic side, the need for industrialization 
and, specifically, the infrastructure of roads, railroads, 
steel mills, petrochemical plants and other heavy indus- 
tries, is obvious. The trouble is that the various countries 
have been relying too heavily on American and other for- 
eign investors to provide this infrastructure when they 
could raise the capital themselves or much of it by ade- 
quate taxation and the proper use and distribution of their 

Moreover, economic nationalism the insistence on 
keeping the foreigners out of key industries like oil, power, 
railroads and public utilities, and even the nationalization 
of these industries is a bedeviling factor. Too often, Latin 
Americans want to eat their cake and have it, a process 



that they might think the Cubans have pulled off success- 
fully. Revolutions defy the laws of orthodox economics, 
and in a sense they get away with it. From the point of 
view of law-abiding, orthodox economists and statesmen, 
it is highway robbery but, even so, the robbers benefit 
temporarily by the use of their loot. 

There are plenty of enlightened leaders in Latin Amer- 
ica and a great number among the ruling classes who see 
what needs to be done and who want to do it. They are 
willing to make sacrifices, to pay adequate taxes, to make 
social reforms, but there are many others among them 
who will not do so voluntarily. The instinct is still, and 
always, to pass the buck to us. 

I think this is an inescapable conclusion for any student 
of Latin American affairs. We can help a country, for 
instance, to draw up an equitable income- and land-tax 
system; we cannot make it enforce the plan. In conquered 
Japan in 1946 we could impose a drastic agrarian reform- 
more drastic than the Cuban one; we cannot do that in any 
Latin American country. 

In an article for Harper's Magazine for July, 1961, an 
American businessman and student of hemispheric affairs, 
Peter F. Drucker, listed some of the things that ought to be 

"The traditional tools of foreign aid money and trained 
men," he wrote, "will never do the job until Latin Amer- 
icans face up to the rough things which they alone can do: 
collect taxes from the rich and clean out the sinecure jobs 
in the swollen government services; push through land 
reform and cheap mass housing; stop subsidizing the 



wrong crops; get rid of the pettifogging regulations that 
now separate the individual states of Brazil by mountains 
of red tape; enforce the factory and mining-inspection 
laws already on the statute books; and say 'no* to the 
blackmail of the generals who habitually threaten to over- 
throw a regime unless they get a few more unneeded jet 
planes, tanks or destroy ers." 

Simple? But this would require a transformation of the 
Latin American scene in other words, a true "revolu- 
tion." Can it be done peacefully? Can it be done our way? 

"Latin America is in revolution/' Adlai Stevenson said 
on his return from a trip there in April, 1960. "The dicta- 
tors are being swept aside. . . . The whole continent is 
on the verge of great economic development, and they 
are going to build a new society under our methods of free 
enterprise, if possible, and if not, under socialism," 

Fidel Castro and his associates say the answer is social- 
ism. We say capitalism. 

One of the most crucial questions of today's world is 
whether our capitalistic, free-enterprise system of economy 
is better suited to the underdeveloped south of the globe 
than the socialistic, totalitarian system. Let us not be too 
sure of ourselves or self-righteous about this. Moral factors 
are not going to be decisive. Victory will go to the side 
that persuades the masses, or that forces the masses, to 
accept its system and then proves it can provide the an- 
swers to their needs. 

Our industrialists, economists and bankers, sitting in the 
midst of the proofs of their success, have nevertheless 
failed in Latin America. The trade, the investments, the 



aid, the technology, have not brought adequate standards 
of living to the masses in Latin America, have not bene- 
fited the people, have not distributed wealth, have not 
built national economies that give these countries a sense 
of sovereignty and independence. 

This is not necessarily a fair criticism of American busi- 
nessmen and the officials of the United States Treasury. 
They were certainly not evil men and, in fact, they have 
done an enormous amount of good. It so happens that 
in today's world their methods are not enough; they work 
too slowly; they benefit too few people at the top or their 
benefits are not seeping downward to the masses fast 

They may take a righteous comfort, for instance, in 
pointing out that the miners in the American-owned cop- 
per industry of Chile earn the equivalent of $90 a week, 
while workers in Chilean-owned industries average $14 a 
week. It so happens that this sort of disparity in wage 
standards sets up dangerous social ferments. 

The answer is obviously not for the American employers 
to reduce their wages to national levels, even if they could, 
nor is it possible for the low national wages to be raised to 
meet American standards. A widespread, massive attack 
has to be made on industry, agriculture and the social fac- 
tors that foster disparities which are no longer endurable. 

Can this be done by evolution by our way? or can it 
only be done by revolution the Cuban way? 

Or is there an intermediate way? Must it be either free 
enterprise or statism? Our industrialists, our investors, our 
government officials are so blindly committed to the sys- 



tern of free enterprise that we are finding ourselves some- 
what out of tune with large sectors of Latin American 

The psychology of our world today djrives political lead- 
ers toward the safeguarding of national resources, the 
control of heavy industries and public utilities, and the 
promotion of social reforms and, by this token, the yield- 
ing to liberal or Left-wing pressure groups. Governments 
that respond to these pressures (Venezuela and Mexico 
are recent examples) find the American investor turning 

In general, American private investments in Latin 
America have fallen off in the last few years in other 
words, since the Cuban Revolution set up a chain reaction 
of social pressures and fears to which governments and 
investors responded in their different ways. The tragedy 
is that every move by Latin American Governments, or 
by their oppositions, to protect resources or stimulate eco- 
nomic growth through state action has been resented and 
fought as Fidelismoox even communism. The polariza- 
tion of ideas and emotions is such that anything which 
seeks to change the existing economic structure is con- 
demned. Yet, if the economic structure is not changed 
voluntarily and peacefully, there is going to have to be a 
totalitarianism of the Right or Left. The American free- 
enterprise investor will be left sitting forlornly like King 
Canute while the tide sweeps in around him. 

These facts are being recognized in Washington and 
in many or most of the Latin American capitals. The 
economic conferences of Bogota and Punta del Este, the 



"Alliance for Progress" plan of the United States, like the 
previous "Operation Pan America" of Brazil, all point in 
the same direction. They are efforts to meet the demands 
for social justice as well as economic development by a 
combination of government aid and private enterprise. 

Only a totalitarian system can long withstand a discon- 
tented people. 

The falling off in United States private investments since 
1959 is a factor working for the Cubans. It sets a vicious 
circle in motion: the Americans are getting to be afraid 
to invest because of the threat of revolutions, but the lack 
of American investments will intensify Latin America's 
already serious economic problems and hence intensify 
revolutionary pressures. 

The Kennedy "Alliance for Progress" plan is an attempt 
to fill the gap. But it can only be a beginning and, being 
Government aid, it represents taxpayers' money. Can Latin 
Americans ask North Americans to pay taxes to aid them 
when their own moneyed, property-owning, salaried class 
won't pay income taxes in their own countries? 

Many students of Latin American affairs believe that 
the answer to the worst economic and social evils of the 
region lies in taxation. The ruling classes landowners, 
businessmen, financiers, high military officers, leaders in 
the well-paid professions (not teaching!) do not pay a 
fraction of the income or land taxes that we and the Euro- 
pean nations would consider fair and adequate. 

Taxation is not progressive. We and the British, for 
instance, have created our welfare states, with their fair 
distribution of wealth by progressively higher taxation of 



incomes. Moreover, we and other states like us, have 
evolved taxation systems that cannot be evaded. We pay 
our taxes or we are punished. The evasion of taxation in 
Latin America is easy, and it is prevalent. Tax officials 
are nearly always underpaid and therefore susceptible to 
bribery, particularly in an atmosphere where tax evasion 
is normal. 

This was, for instance, the state of affairs in Cuba before 
1959. It is being corrected by the Revolution. If the neces- 
sity for paying taxes takes hold, Cuba will have gained 
something precious by the Revolution. This is one of the 
many ways in which the Cubans are at least trying to 
remedy social evils that they inherited. Even if they fail, 
the fact that they are trying at all is important. It is the 
sort of thing which is attracting attention and respect in 
other Latin American countries. 

In some of these countries efforts are being made to 
reform the tax systems but they do not remotely strike 
deeply enough. The ruling classes will, after all, have to 
tax themselves and they have not yet reached a state of 
rnind, a stage of maturity or a state of fear that will induce 
them to say: "We will abandon our special privileges, 
divide our lands, share our profits, pay just taxes." 

Why should they do so if they do not, as they seem 
to think, have to do so? If you had asked these questions 
of the Cuban ruling classes five years ago you would have 
got a dusty answer. So they had a revolution! 

The tragedy is that the Cuban Revolution in its present 
form has not been an answer, either, because it exacts 



such a high, price for Its reforms. It divides, destroys and 
levels down, and sends freedom and democracy away. 

I believe any student of Latin American affairs would 
agree that the people of Latin America, or an overwhelm- 
ing majority of them, do not want societies that are regi- 
mented, socialistic, dictatorial and combative. Still less 
would they want regimes that are Communist or allied 
with and riddled with communism. 

The best that can be said for a social revolution is that 
it may in certain circumstances be the only answer to an 
unjust, corrupt andfrom the nationalistic point of view- 
humiliating state of affairs. This was the case in Cuba. 

I do not say that Cuba was ripe for this particular revo- 
lution in the form it has taken. Certainly, it was not the 
revolution for which the middle classes of the civic re- 
sistance fought and one sees them all now in opposition. 
They wanted a political revolution, as was noted before, 
that would make drastic social reforms, but would keep 
the social changes within the framework of a democratic 
structure that is to say elections, a legislature, an inde- 
pendent judiciary, the rule of law, a free press, habeas 
corpus and all the other civic freedoms. This is what Fidel 
Castro promised them. 

I still believe that this was the type of revolution he 
thought he could make and that was why he promised 
these things. The great question to be asked about Cuba- 
and it would be the question to be asked if there were 
other similar revolutions in Latin America is whether it 
is possible to make a drastic social revolution of an ex- 
treme, nationalistic type within a democratic structure. 



Fidel Castro was soon convinced that he could not do 
so. Let me repeat that I am not making a moral judgment 
in saying that given the problems he faced, internally and 
externally, given the character of the Cuban people, and 
given the determination to make a radical, social revolu- 
tion, Fidel came up with a logical answer. It may well be 
that there could have been a better answer. 

At least the methods he has been using, the policies he 
has been following in Cuba and on the world stage, have 
in effect, given Cuba a social revolution, a place in the 
world out of all proportion to Cuba's size and resources, 
and the Cubans have set an example that other countries 
in the hemisphere may try to follow. 

Fidel Castro is one of the half dozen most famous men 
in the world today. Fortunately for us there are no other 
Fidel Castros around, but there are revolutionary pres- 
sures. There is still only too much reason to believe that 
if there are other Latin American revolutions they will try 
to model themselves on Cuba. That is to say, they will be 
Leftist, pro-Communist, anti-Yankee and non-democratic. 

One must always make that qualification "try" to be 
like Cuba. The United States has made it clear that Amer- 
ican power will be used to prevent any more Castr5-type 
revolutions in Latin America, In so doing, will we not be 
lining ourselves up with the forces of reaction against 
social reforms? There is a real danger that the Latin 
American reaction to Fidelismo will be Eight-wing, mili- 
tary oligarchies. The temptation for the United States to 
accept or even to welcome them will be great. 

This is the dilemma that we and the ruling classes of 



Latin America face today. The solution is to provide 
social reforms, or the hope of them, and thus forestall any 
more revolutions, or at least any serious ones. In that aim 
we should be helped by the fears that the Cuban Revolu- 
tion has engendered. 

"We call for social change by free men/' as President 
Kennedy put it. 

The magnitude of the problem is frightening. For our 
purposes it is simply necessary to note some general 

The average per capita income of Latin America's 200,- 
000,000 people is a third that of Western Europe and a 
seventh that of the United States. The journal of the new 
Inter-American Development Bank, Ecos de la America 
Latina, says that at the present rate of economic growth 
it will take Latin America 252 years to reach a level one 
third of the present United States average per capita 

There are not only appalling deficiencies in housing, 
education, health services and water supplies, but agri- 
tural production, upon which the region depends, is at 
a lower level today than it was twenty-five years ago. 
A report made for the Punta del Este Conference of the 
OAS in August, 1961, said this low productivity was the 
result of "an extremely unequal distribution of land own- 
ership, obsolete production methods and often undesirable 
practices in the employment and compensation of agri- 
cultural labor." Put these polite phrases into their real 
terms of social and human misery and you can get some 
feeling of what is agitating essentially rural Latin America. 



We had what might be called our agrarian reform in the 
United States after the War of Independence and finished 
it some time after the Homestead Act of 1862 let us say 
it took one hundred years. We could tell the Cuban and 
Peruvian and Colombian and Brazilian peasants that if 
they and their descendants would only wait a hundred 
years they will have a fine agrarian reform. 

They won't listen not today, not with Russia and China 
showing them how it can be done quickly in their ruth- 
less and costly way. 

Chester Bowles, who was then a Representative from 
Connecticut, in an article on land reform in Latin Amer- 
ica for the Times Magazine Section on November 22, 1959, 
pointed out that "1.5 per cent of the people, those with 
15,000 acres or more each, own half of all the agricul- 
tural land in Latin America/' President Kennedy has 
given comparable figures, and as he said: <c The uneven 
distribution of land is one of the gravest social problems 
in many Latin American countries." 

Former Secretary of State Herter, belatedly, but never- 
theless admirably, announced United States support for 
agrarian reforms in Latin America in a speech to the 
Council of the Organization of American States on April 
20, 1960. Land reform is also one of the key features of 
the programs announced at Bogota in September, 1960, 
and at Punta del Este in 1961. 

The primary obstacle is the Latin American landowner, 
often an aristocrat who inherited his land, or a newly rich 
businessman who gets power and social status by owning 
land. Their aim, usually, is to grow cash crops like sugar, 



coffee and cotton and the methods are antiquated and 

As Mr. Bowles wrote: "Sweeping changes in Latin 
American land tenure are inevitable/' But here, again, we 
and they face the dilemma: Shall it be by democratic 
evolution or by revolution? 

In Cuba, with which we are especially concerned, 8 per 
cent of all landowners held more than 71.1 per cent of the 
land, according to the last inventory taken in 1946. It could 
hardly have improved during the Batista regime. Small 
holders (up to about 30 acres) owned 39 per cent of all 
the farms, but only 3.3 per cent of the cultivable land. 

The guajiro, or peasant, was for the most part a laborer 
on land that belonged to the big Cuban and American 
landowners, On the sugar plantations, where the trade 
unions enforced good wages, the peasant had three or at 
best four months' work a year. For the most part he was 
unemployed the rest of the year. 

The average peasant lived at a bare subsistence level, 
illiterate, ill-housed, diseased. Is it not ridiculous for Amer- 
icans, and for the Cuban exiles in Miami, to come along 
now and pity these guajirosP Now, for the first time, they 
are being taken care of, given year-round work, new 
houses, schools for their children, new wells, roads, hos- 
pitals. What sense does it make to tell them that they are 
no longer free men living under a democratic regime be- 
cause they have to work for cooperatives or State-owned 
farms? /' 

The growth rate of production per head has practically 
halted in Latin America since 1955. Yet the population 



is growing at the fastest rate in the world, ranging be- 
tween 2.5 and 3 per cent. The report to the Montevideo 
Conference mentioned above calls for an average yearly 
rate of growth of real output of at least 5 per cent. In 
present circumstances it looks as if there will have to be a 

I do not mean to give the impression that Latin Amer- 
ica, or its economy, is stagnant. There are few areas in the 
world in greater ferment or more dynamic in every sense 
of the word. The point I want to make is that, generally 
speaking, per capita economic growth has not kept pace 
with population growth in recent years, and it has cer- 
tainly not kept pace with the "revolution of rising expec- 

Moreover, the world prices of the commodities upon 
which Latin American economy depends so heavily have 
dropped, on the whole, in the last four years, while the 
cost of imports has increased. Few of the countries have 
escaped more or less severe inflation. Unemployment rates 
are abnormally high in the cities. 

A half or more of the population of Latin America are 
not consumers at all in the sense of buying imports or 
manufactured goods; they live on what they grow or make 
or scrounge, To them, it makes little difference whether 
the national economy is growing or declining and whether 
American investments are going up or down. 

President Kennedy put his finger on the nub of the 
problem in his "Alliance for Progress" message to Con- 
gress last March when he said: "Economic growth without 
social progress lets the great majority of the people remain 



in poverty while a privileged few reap the benefits of 
rising abundance." 

By and large, there is a profound discontent throughout 
the area, rooted in the economic state of affairs. It has 
dangerous revolutionary possibilities; and revolutionary 
ideas, as I keep saying, have a tendency to take the form 
of Fidelismo. One of the wisest young statesmen of Latin 
America, Foreign Minister Julio Cesar Turbay of Colom- 
bia, has put it this way: "We will direct the evolution of 
our countries or our masses will direct their revolution." 

The lines of direction are clear enough. On the economic 
side they are industrialization and increased agricultural 
output. On the political side they can be summed up as 
social justice for the masses jobs for the urban workers, 
land to till, education, health, a fairer distribution of 
wealth, a higher standard of living. 

How easy it is to formulate what is neededand how 
hard to provide it! With variations, men and women have 
always wanted these things. What is new in history is that 
allowing for some exaggeration all men and women now 
demand these things, regardless of birth or color or race 
or where they were born. And they are demanding them 

The problem of providing enough economic and finan- 
cial aid to satisfy the needs of Latin Americans is beyond 
our resources or those of the Soviet bloc. In theory we 
could do it by going on a war footing of controlled econ- 
omy, austerity and sacrifices, which we are not going to 
do. Unfortunately for us, the Sino-Soviet bloc can force its 
people to make economic sacrifices for political gains. 



We have, for instance, been seeing Communist China send 
rice to Cuba in 1961 at a time when her own people were 

In explaining his success in getting economic help from 
the Communist bloc on a trip at the end of I960, Che 
Guevara said: "We could not make such a request on an 
economic basis; this was simply a political request/' We 
did somewhat the same thing in Europe with the Marshall 
Plan. It required real sacrifices on the part of every Amer- 
ican citizen and it paid off. Yet we have been unwilling to 
meet a similar challenge in our own hemisphere. Latin 
America did not have any part in the Marshall Plan. 

President Kennedy's "Alliance for Progress" plan is our 
substitute. It is also the American answer to Fidel Castro. 
The idea of offering $500,000,000 as a first installment of 
economic and social aid was originally put forward by 
Under-Secretary Dillon at Bogota for President Eisen- 
hower in September, 1960. It was immediately labeled the 
"Castro Plan" by ironical Latin Americans. Certainly, they 
had Fidel Castro to thank. 

The concept of devoting money, credit, goods and tech- 
nical aid to a program concentrating on social development 
is splendid. The main objectives are land, education and 
housing and they could not be better. The Punta del Este 
Conference in August, 1961, tried to give practical form 
to the goals. 

We are concerned here primarily with the question of 
whether the United States, with the cooperation of the 
Latin American governments, can come up with satisfac- 
tory answers to the revolutionary pressures which are 



being given an example, a form and a direction by the 
Cuban Revolution. In this respect, as in other ways, the 
Cuban phenomenon is forcing us to go to the heart of the 

In its simplest expression, we must answer the question 
being asked in Latin America and everywhere in the 
underdeveloped world: Which way will bring us social 
justice sooner, your capitalistic, free-enterprise system, or 
the Communist socialistic, totalitarian system? 

Nothing could be more dangerous than to fall back on 
the complacent, smug, self-righteous assurance that our 
form of capitalism is, of course, the best and also morally 
right. However fervently we believe this, it is still a fact 
that we have not convinced the people of the underdevel- 
oped nations and it is also a fact that the Communist bloc, 
especially the Soviet Union, is proving that its system 
works. Students of Russian affairs, in fact, tell us that the 
rate of economic growth in the Soviet Union is faster than 

Too many Americans are missing the point about the 
appeal of communism in Latin America. Our mood is one 
of anger and irritation with Cuba and a naive belief that 
the danger lies in subversion by Marxist-Leninist ideol- 
ogy working from a Cuban base. 

The true danger, and the true appeal of communism 
in Latin America is material and practical. China may be 
having agrarian troubles in recent years that are setting 
the country back, but taking the long range picture, both 
the Soviet Union and Red China have a remarkably effec- 
tive argument in Latin America. (Incidentally, they are 



believed to be spending something like $100,000,000 in 
propaganda in Latin America alone, every year. This is 
more than we spend for similar purposes in the whole 
world. ) 

In essence, the Russians and Chinese say this: "Like you, 
we were underdeveloped, agrarian nations in which our 
peasants and workers were downtrodden and neglected. 
As you see (and we have invited many thousands from 
your lands to come and see) we have industrialized with- 
out foreign investments and we have bettered the lot of 
our workers and peasants. We give education and jobs to 
all our young people and positions of leadership to the best 
among them, regardless of birth, race, creed or color. You 
can do the same with our methods and our help/* 

As an example of how they can help, they are now 
pointing to Cuba. We know the price that two generations 
of Russians have had to pay for this material triumph and 
we can see the price that the Chinese people are in process 
of paying. Capital had to be formed somehow, and while 
it did not come from foreign investments it did come from 
the equivalent of slave labor and a temporary lowering of 
living standards of virtually everybody to a subsistence 

In the United States, Canada and Western Europe 
and for that matter among the ruling classes of Latin 
America such a price is intolerable. There is not the 
slightest danger of such a way of life appealing to more 
than a tiny minority in a country like the United States, 
with all due respect to the McCarthyites, John Birchers, 
Unamericans and the like. 



But we are now considering the situation in Latin 
America. One graphic way of approaching the problem 
was put to me by President Alberto Lleras Camargo of 
Colombia, as wise and liberal and democratic a statesman 
as is to be found in the hemisphere. 

"Can I go out into the countryside/' he asked me the 
last time I was in Bogota, "and go up to a peasant, stand- 
ing in rags in front of his hovel, with his wife and children 
similarly ill-clothed, undernourished and no schools or 
hospitals for them to go to can I say to this man: 'You 
are fortunate now; we have kicked out the dictator; you 
have freedom and democracy?* " 

Naturally the peasant asks: "But will your democracy 
and freedom give me bread and clothes and a decent 
house, a school for my children, a hospital when we are 

To be honest, the President and all of us have to say: 
"Yes, but you must be patient. These things take time." 
The Communists have no scruples in promising speedy 
social justice that they know they will not be able to 
provide but, here again, we must not miss the point. The 
men who would lead this Colombian peasant and other 
millions like him in Latin America into social revolutions 
would not simply be cynical, greedy, power-hungry dema- 
gogues from the middle classes. They would be young men 
who have persuaded themselves that the totalitarian so- 
cialistic method is the best way for their countries. 

This is what has happened in Cubal In order to under- 
stand the situation and it is a Latin American situation 



put yourselves in the place of the young Cubans who are 
making this Revolution. 

As I keep saying, there is a stubborn tendency here to 
look at Cuba and Latin America in terms of our own 
stable, mature, democratic, capitalistic, free-enterprise 
system and way of life. These yardsticks do not fit; they 
do not apply; they will not work. When you use them you 
come up with the wrong answers. Cubans do not think 
the way we do, or feel the way we feel, or see the problems 
of the world, including communism, as we see them. The 
Cubans are not Anglo-Saxons, nor is Fidel Castro a John 
Kennedy gone wild. 

Take capitalistic free enterprise, for instance. As so 
brilliantly defined and interpreted by American thinkers 
like Adolf Berle, who headed a Latin American task force 
for President Kennedy, our capitalism is, in truth, an effi- 
cient, democratic system that distributes wealth fairly and 
brings a high standard of living to a higher percentage of 
the population than any system ever devised. 

So we say: "If it has done this for us, it can do the same 
for the nations and the masses in Latin America." 

The young Cuban revolutionaries, looking at what capi- 
talism and free enterprise meant to their country, with its 
rewards for the few, its corruption, its fantastically high 
unemployment rate, its subservience to the United States, 
said: "We have no faith in your capitalism; we do not 
want it* 

It is vain for us to argue that they have had a parody, 
or a corrupt form of what modern capitalism can be; that 
their ruling classes and some American investors had be- 


trayed the Cuba people. This was not an argument that 
could get a hearing. It was too late in Cuba. 

In Latin America capitalism and free enterprise have 
not, as with us, operated to raise the general standard of 
living, to distribute wealth, to give the worker and farmer 
an ever greater share of the produce of their toil, to bring 
them leisure and the means to enjoy it. It has, on the 
whole, meant wealth, privilege and power to a few at the 
top and good profits for American investors. It has not 
greatly altered the traditionally hierarchical social system, 
with its exclusivity, its aristocracy of family and wealth, its 
color bars, its social immobility, its caste privileges. It has 
not brought what sociologists call pluralism the melting 
pot, equality, fraternity. 

The thinking is doubtless twisted, but is it not under- 
standable for a Latin American to say: "We have been 
trying your capitalistic methods and things are getting 
worse; let us try the other method'? 

We must recognize that the appeal of Marxism to Cuban 
revolutionaries like Fidel Castro, and more notably to his 
chief economic and financial adviser, Che Guevara, is 
great, and that it is not simply the result of anti- Yankee- 
ism, Soviet blandishments and orders, or a perverted de- 
sire to maintain power at all costs. There has been a gen- 
uine conversion to a belief that socialistic methods are 
best suited to solve the problems faced by revolutionary 

This is the sort of thinking we must fear in the rest 
of Latin America. President Eisenhower was in Santiago, 
Chile, early in 1960. While he was there, the University 



Students' Federation of Chile wrote him an open letter 
which read, in part: "If the injustices of today are all 
that Christianity or democracy can offer this continent, 
no one should be surprised if the best children of these 
nations turn toward communism, seeking those elemen- 
tary needs which they lack and which are the essentials to 
morality and civilization: food, shelter and education/' 

The answer prepared for President Eisenhower and 
later published was not convincing to these students. The 
leaders were invited to the United States and were im- 
pressed, but afterwards they went to Cuba and were im- 
pressed there, too. 

But the impression was not made by communism in 
Cuba. It cannot be stressed too often or too much that 
the appeal of Fidelismo in Latin America is wider and 
deeper than the appeal of communism. In the United 
States, and in governing circles in Latin America, for that 
matter, there is a tendency to believe or at least to say- 
that Fidelismo and comunmno are exactly synonymous. 

We have not convinced the Latin Americans (or the 
Europeans for that matter) that the Cuban Revolution is 
simply a Communist revolution. Ambassador Adlai Ste- 
venson learned that on his trip to South America in June, 
1961. They know better. It is a paradox, but Latin Amer- 
icans would continue to see this revolution as a Cuban and 
Latin American phenomenon even if it went on to call 
itself a Communist regime, as it now calls itself a Socialist 

For one thing, as I have said before, it would not be 
recognizable in Moscow or Peiping as communism. At the 



meeting of the eighty-one Communist parties of the world 
in the Kremlin in November, 1960, a new categoiy was 
invented: 'Independent national democracies/' Cuba was 
put in this grouping, and solidarity with her was pledged 
by "the Socialist countries, the entire international Com- 
munist movement, the proletariat of all the regions of the 
world," in Premier Khrushchev's words. 

Whether this is semantics or not; whether we in the 
United States want to say there is no difference, the fact 
remains that in Latin America a distinction is made be- 
tween Fidelismo and communism. If we are successful in 
pinning a purely Communist label on the Castro regime, 
we will have a much less difficult problem with which to 
deal, for this aspect of the Cuban Revolution weakens its 
appeal in other countries. 

Meanwhile we must realize that the importance, the 
influence and the attraction of the Cuban Revolution in 
Latin America is not in its communistic coloration or its 
alliance with the Sino-Soviet bloc. The appeal lies in the 
fact that the Cubans are making a revolution which seeks 
to answer the problems that virtually all the Latin coun- 
tries face. 

Fidelismo attracts students and intellectuals, some in- 
dustrial workers, the extreme nationalists with their anti- 
Yankeeism, the political oppositions of the Left and among 
these (as among all the other elements in varying degree) 
we find the Communists. Everywhere, as they did in Cuba, 
the Reds are getting on the Fidelista bandwagon. The 
non-Communist radicals are attracted by the Cuban Revo- 
lution, not by communism. Both Fidelismo and commu- 



nism are providing the vehicle or means of expression for 
the social pressures that threaten to take a revolutionary 

It has been utterly useless for Americans government 
officials, businessmen and press commentators to say to 
Fidel Castro and his associates: "We like your revolution 
and will support it, but you must give up the Communists 
and the support of the Sino-Soviet bloc/' 

If we had followed different policies in 1959 we may 
or may not have brought about that result. By I960, and 
certainly in 1961, we were asking the impossible. That is 
to say, we were, in effect, asking Fidel Castro to give up 
his Revolution. President Kennedy goes on demanding the 
same thing, and perhaps it is good propaganda; perhaps it 
is a necessity. Let us not try to fool ourselves or anybody 
else. This is an oblique way of saying that we intend to 
destroy the Castro regime if we can. 

Our position, as stated by President Kennedy is that 
"the United States would never permit the establishment 
of a regime dominated by international communism in the 
Western Hemisphere." 

It remains to be seen whether we can make good on that 
threat in the long run, but one thing is certain the answers 
to Fidelismo and communism in Latin America cannot be 
negative. They do not lie in the field of anti-communism 
or in maintaining the status quo at the cost of supporting 
Right-wing military dictatorships. This must be empha- 
sized because our record in Latin America since the Second 
World War has been to oppose communism everywhere 
and at all costs, but not to oppose Right-wing, f ascistoid, 



military dictatorships. In fact, we often went out of our 
way to favor the dictators. 

The need for a new policy was recognized by President 
Kennedy. When he appointed Dean Rusk Secretary of 
State, he said: 

"It is my hope that in the coming years the foreign 
policy of the United States will be identified in the minds 
of the people of the world as a policy that is not merely 
anti-Communist, but is rather for freedom, that seeks not 
merely to build strength in a power struggle, but is con- 
cerned with the struggle against hunger, disease and il- 

This is a position more advanced, more sophisticated and 
more in tune with necessities than that held by a great 
majority in Congress during the Eisenhower Administra- 
tion. However, the policy of using American aid to en- 
courage social development in Latin America began with 
the Eisenhower Government. 

If we had insisted on social reforms in Cuba sixty, fifty 
or thirty years ago (and we were in a position to do so) 
there would be no Cuban Revolution today. 

But if we insist that social reform in Latin America must 
not bear the imprint of Fidelmno or communism, what 
then? The revolutionary pressures in Latin America do 
have these labels. In any event, they are radical, Leftist, 

It is a sad acknowledgment to make that we, with our 
wonderful Constitution and Bill of Rights, our freedom, 
our democracy, our equality, our fantastically high stand- 
ard of living, should fear the undeniable and natural fact 



that Latin Americans now want, now demand what we 
have, what we helped to teach them to want. 

When they set out to get these things, are we going to 
say it is communism? Or are we going to let the Com- 
munists be the champions of a social justice that we op- 
pose because it is demanded, among others, by the Com- 
munists and the Fidelistas? 

The Cubans are making a great play throughout the 
hemisphere of our supposed opposition to social reforms. 
Che Guevara put it crudely but effectively when he said: 
"By replying to the question of whether one is with Cuba 
or against her, one can tell if that person is for or against 
the people." 

The dilemma that we face is not only baffling and pain- 
ful; it is crucial. A friendly or neutral Latin America with 
which we can trade, upon whose raw materials we can 
draw, from which we know that a military attack against 
us is unthinkable such a Latin America is vital to our 
existence as the pre-eminent power in the free world. This 
statement, which may sound dramatic, could be docu- 

The security of the continental United States for the last 
150 years has, in a crucial sense, been based on our her 
gemony in the Western Hemisphere. Now, as an indirect 
result of the Cuban Revolution, that hegemony is being 

Latin America has been our sphere of influence. In the 
world of power politics it is our area, and we have the 
Monroe Doctrine to prove it. We are the Colossus of the 
North, and no European nation has been allowed to exer- 



else political influence, let alone power, south of the Rio 

Can we lose that hegemony now? The fact that the ques- 
tion has to be asked, that there is even a possibility of our 
position being lost or seriously weakened, proves in itself 
how grave a challenge we are facing from the forces un- 
leashed by the Cuban Revolution. 

When Premier Khrushchev made his flamboyant threat 
in July, 1960, to use nuclear weapons against the United 
States if we intervened militarily in Cuba, he knew that we 
had no intention of sending American troops into Cuba 
and we knew that he had no intention of waging a third 
world war, with all that it means, because of Cuba, The 
significance of his gesture which he, himself, later called 
symbolic was that a Latin American country was for the 
first time accepting military protection from a European 
power, not from the United States or the Inter- American 

Those of us working in the Latin American field and 
seeking to grasp the real, the profound, the historic forces 
at work feel almost tempted to brush aside these surface 
manifestations, of which communism is one. That, of 
course, would be idiotic, but the impulse is based on a 
legitimate desire to get at the root of the trouble in Latin 
America, at the causes of a phenomenon like the Cuban 

Let me repeat that the basic cause of the revolutionary 
ferment in Latin America is social. It is the demand for 
what we are conveniently labeling social justice that is 
pressing upon the political and economic structures in 



such a way as to endanger their solidity, to distort them, to 
give them new and dangerous directions. 

These are nations seeking the answers to their insuffi- 
ciencies, their maladjustments, their distortions, their in- 
justices. These are people striving for material betterment, 
hut also for human dignity and, to an extent we do not 
grasp in the United States, for national sovereignty, for 
independence from domination or dictation by outsiders. 

"In a real sense/* as Professor Frank Tannenbaum of 
Columbia University has written, "the United States and 
the non-industrial areas, including Latin America, live in 
separate worlds, and matters of most concern to one lie 
beyond the basic preoccupation of the other/' 

It is hard for Americans to realize the extent to which 
we live in a world of our own, with ideas and values that 
others do not share. This is as true of Europeans as it is of 
Latin Americans. In any event, what counts in the rela- 
tions between nations is not common ideas or moral values, 
but, as Lord Palmerston pointed out a long time ago, com- 
mon interests. I would not feel at all sure that our way of 
life our democratic, capitalistic, free-enterprise system- 
is applicable to Latin America in its present stage of under- 
development, and considering all the historical, traditional, 
social, religious and racial factors at work. 

As Latin Americans search for the answers to their prob- 
lems, we say to them: "You will find the answers as we 
have found them. It is our example that you should emu- 

The real meaning, and the real importance of the Cuban 
Revolution is that it challenges this contention. It says: 



"You will find the answers in a totalitarian system reached 
through a social revolution. Your examples are to be found 
in the East, not in the West. With their methods and their 
help we will make a Cuban Revolution, a Latin American 

For the first time, Latin Americans do not need to look 
abroad for something different. It is in their midst. 

It is important to us and we believe to Cuba and Latin 
America that this type of revolution should fail. Yet it is 
even more important to realize that its failure would ulti- 
mately solve nothing. Kill Fidel Castro and overthrow his 
regime, and this particular revolution, in this form, would 
be over in Cuba, but we would have exactly the same 
forces to contend with, the same searching for answers and 
solutions that we have today. Meanwhile, Cuba would be 
suffering the horrors of bloodshed and anarchy. 

We would cure the patient by killing him as we tried to 
do with the invasion of April, 1961. There are no easy 
answers to our conflict with Cuba, because the answers 
that have to be found for the island off our shore are the 
same answers that we need for the whole vast area of 
twenty countries and a continent and a half. 



The United States 

UNITED STATES POLICY toward Cuba since early in 1960 
has been to destroy the Castro regime. This is the key 
factor around which relations between Cuba and the 
United States have revolved. 

This statement is not made to absolve Fidel Castro and 
his Government of their share of the responsibility for 
carrying events to a point where such a decision seemed 
necessary to the Eisenhower Administration. I think the 
decision was at least made too soon. It was certainly made 
without a correct understanding of what was happening 
in Cuba, why it was happening, how strong the Castro 
regime was, and how much all of Latin America would 
resent United States intervention in Cuba and anywhere 

The Kennedy Administration carried on the Cuban pol- 
icies of the preceding Administration. The policies were 
bad and they led to die incredible and inexcusable fiasco 



of the invasion of April, 1961. None of this is wisdom 
after the event. None of it let me repeat is intended to 
excuse bad, ignorant and often inexcusable policies on 
the part of the Castro Government. It was as if a curse 
had been put upon both our countries. 

In some curious way, the Cuban Revolution aroused 
an emotionalism in the United States that had not been 
seen since the Spanish Civil War. The history of Cuba 
began on January 1, 1959, for virtually all Americans. 
They did not know what had happened before; they did 
not understand the real reasons for the summary execu- 
tions of "war criminals"; they were told that the Com- 
munists were taking over, although at that time they 
were of little importance. 

The Cubans on their part had always been convinced 
that the Administration in Washington was out to destroy 
the Revolution. They really believed that the hostile press 
in the United States, the distortions and falsities, as well 
as the facts being printed here, the welcome given by 
Congressional committees to Cubans known to have been 
sadists, assassins and thieves in the Batista regime, the 
frequent raids by little planes from Florida, the discour- 
agement of tourism during all the months when Havana 
was safer than New York and Americans warmly wel- 
comedthese and other factors had convinced the Cuban 
leaders that the United States was preparing to take 
action, and there was no reason to doubt that they even 
feared the possibility of American military intervention 
with good reason, as it turned out. 

Some students place the definitive turn in American 



policythat is to say, the decision that we could not get 
along with the Cuban Revolution in May, 1959, when 
the terms of the agrarian reform were divulged, It was, 
indeed, a tough, extremely radical land reform and it 
resulted in the resignation of five Cuban Cabinet Min- 
isters, including the Minister of Agriculture, Humberto 
Soil Marin, whose own more moderate proposals were 
rejected. This was the first major break in revolutionary 

The agrarian reform law, in fact, was much more 
radical than the Cuban Communists were suggesting. 
This was ironical considering that the law, which was 
promulgated on June 3, 1959, was immediately and gen- 
erally labeled as communistic in the American press and 
by many American businessmen and Congressmen. 

The decision was Fidel Castro's, and it was typical of 
a paradoxical feature of the Cuban Revolution: Fidelismo 
is more radical than comunismo. 

On June 11, 1959, the day the Cabinet Ministers re- 
signed, U.S. Ambassador Philip W. Bonsai handed Min- 
ister of State Roberto Agramonte (who, incidentally, was 
one of the men who resigned) a note from our State De- 
partment. The key passage read: 

"The United States recognizes that under international 
law a state has the right to take property within its juris- 
diction for public purposes in the absence of treaty pro- 
visions or other agreement to the contrary; however, this 
right is coupled with the corresponding obligation on the 
part of a state that such taking will be accompanied by 


payment of prompt, adequate and effective compensa- 

The law provided for compensation in twenty-year 
bonds bearing 4 l /% per cent interest. No bonds ever 
materialized, nor was there compensation at any time 
for American mines, public utilities, factories, refineries 
and property of all kinds seized as the conflict between 
us worsened. These had a capital value of at least 

Fidel and his associates insisted that Cuba was in no 
position to pay compensation after the colossal peculations 
of Batista and his cronies which was true enough and 
that bonds would have been issued for expropriated lands 
if we had been patient enough. I was not so sure of that, 
but it was true that the revolutionary government was 
too disorganized and had too few technicians to issue the 
bonds quickly. 

A crucial question began to take shape at that time: 
How much patience could or should the United States 
exercise toward the Castro regime? Before that question 
could be answered with a proper degree of wisdom, 
common sense and understanding, history, the character 
of the Cuban people and the long intimate background 
of Cuban-American relations had to be studied, as well 
as the phenomenon of the Cuban Revolution. 

I do not believe that such a study was made or was 
considered necessary. Perhaps it would have been an 
intellectual exercise too confusing and too paralyzing for 
men concerned with the security and power of the United 
States, Only the intellectuals can safely, indulge in the 



luxury of seeing both sides. It need hardly be pointed out 
that in similar circumstances Premier Khrushchev would 
have acted sooner and with complete ruthlessness a 
simple fact that Fidel Castro and his associates did not 
seem to have considered. 

However, the United States is not a Communist or 
Fascist State. "In a free society like ours/' Walter Lipp- 
rnann was to write after the abortive invasion, "a policy 
is bound to fail which deliberately violates our pledges 
and our principles, our treaties and our laws." 

So, with regard to Cuba, we have been performing the 
classic maneuver of sitting down between two stools. 

Unhappily, we are ill prepared as a people and a 
nation to understand and meet the problems that face us 
in Latin America. We start with a great handicap. The 
ignorance of Latin America in American official and public 
life and in the press, radio and television of the United 
States is quite simply appalling. There are many first-rate 
Latin Americanists in our universities, but not nearly 
enough. None specialized or kept up with Cuban affairs 
and as a result there has been no history of Cuba in 
English since 1936. 

There has been no Secretary of State since Cordell 
Hull who has made a close study of Latin American 
affairs (Dean Rusk is no exception) and HuU was narrow 
minded, unsympathetic and lacking in understanding. 

One of the most frequently heard complaitits in Latin 
America was that we "neglected" the area and concen- 
trated all our attention and an overwhelming percentage 
of our aid on Europe and Asia. 


There was no logical reason for our neglect. On the con- 
trary, the importance of Latin America to the United 
States is paramount. Our private investments outside of 
Cuba, for instance, exceed $8,000,000,000 compared to 
about $5,300,000,000 in Europe. About one quarter of 
all our exports go to Latin America and one third of all 
our imports come from the area. Of seventy-seven articles 
listed as strategic materials for stockpiling in the Second 
World War, thirty are produced in large quantities in 
Latin America. We get more than 90 per cent of our 
quartz crystals, two thirds of our antimony, more than 
half of our bauxite, half of our beryl, a third of our lead, 
a quarter of our copper from the area. Zinc, tin, tungsten, 
manganese, petroleum and iron ore are some other im- 
portant raw materials we get from Latin America. 

The trade between the United States and Latin Amer- 
ica, both ways, exceeds $8,000,000,000 a year. United 
States receipts for exports of goods and services and for 
net long-term investments are in the neighborhood of 
$7,000,000,000 yearly. The figure for payments by the 
United States to Latin America for imports of goods and 
services, net donations and investments in excess of 
liquidations or repayments is roughly the same. 

It should be remembered, incidentally, that we get 
nearly all our coffee and most of our imported sugar from 
Latin America. These may not be strictly "strategic" 
materials, but one would hate to live without them. 

What all this adds up to can be stated simply. Latin 
America is our most important trading and investment 
area. Latin American raw materials are essential to our 



existence as the pre-eminent world power. A friendly 
Latin America is necessary to our military security. 

These are the facts of life, and yet we see the paradox 
of Latin America being taken for granted, neglected and 
misunderstood. While the United States poured aid into 
other parts of the world to forestall social revolutions or 
communism, or threats to the security of the West, Latin 
America has received only about 2 per cent of direct 
American aid since 1945. In 1955, Latin America occupied 
first place among the major regions of the world in new 
United States private investments; in 1959 Latin America 
was in last place, and she stayed there in 1960. 

The pent-up feelings exploded with a tremendous 
shock when Vice President Nixon made his now famous 
trip to South America in April and May, 1958. Virtually 
all students of Latin American affairs agreed at the time 
that Mr. Nixon drew the right conclusions from his experi- 
encethat the hostility was not directed against him 
personally but against the United States policies toward 
the region, especially economic policies, and the favor- 
itism shown toward Latin American dictators. 

Among the dictators who had been especially favored 
was General Batista of Cuba. This policy came at the 
end of a century of policies that Cuban patriots resented 
generation after generation. Yet we started in 1959 by 
blandly ignoring the past. 

The Cubans had longer memories. A conflict between 
Cuba and United States had been built into Cuban- 
American relations by past history and it overflowed in 


1959, from which time it was aggravated to the point of 
a bitter form of cold and nearly hot warfare. 

The two events which precipitated an open break were 
the seizure of the American and British oil refineries in 
Cuba when they refused to process Soviet oil in June, 

1960, and the decision of the Eisenhower Administration 
to punish Cuba by eliminating her sugar quota. 

The arguments as to whether the Castro regime de- 
liberately followed the general line it has taken, or was 
forced to do so by American policies and the attitude of 
the American public, could, be endless. There is no way 
of settling the issue, for these are matters of opinion. 

I am sure that Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Raul Castro, 
Raul Roa, Armando Hart and the others sincerely con- 
vinced themselves that the United States was the aggres- 
sor from the beginning, and gave them no alternative. It 
is also possible, if not probable, that they were only too 
willing to go the way they did and often followed policies 
that deliberately provoked American reaction. 

History, which ends up by holding an impassive bal- 
ance, will no doubt say that both sides were to blame, 
that each provoked the other, that action was met by 
reaction in an almost compulsive chain or (to change the 
figure of speech) in a vicious circle. 

An example of Fidel Castro's deliberately provoking 
an American reaction was his demand that the personnel 
of the huge American Embassy in Havana be cut to eleven 
persons in forty-eight hours. This was on January 3, 1961, 
and President Eisenhower had/ no choice but to break 
diplomatic relations. 



In any event, I do not see how a confident judgment 
can be passed blaming either Fidel Castro or the United 
States for the bitter and irrevocable conflict that developed 
between us. Neither side can be absolved of mistakes, 
misunderstandings, injustices and stupidities. Let history 
decide who was guilty of more sins of omission and 
commission. I will not, as I remarked before, quarrel with 

Granting United States patience in 1959, it could be 
argued that the situation required some positive American 
policy and economic initiative toward Cuba and cer- 
tainly there was neither of these. 

The inevitable was not recognized as early as it could 
and should have been, and the supreme importance of 
Fidel Castro was also missed. One can only speculate as 
to what differences a recognition of Cuban realities by the 
White House, State Department, Congress and perhaps, 
above all, by the American press, radio and television 
would have made. The Revolution could never have 
been defeated or destroyed, as so many American officials 
and businessmen believed. 

In diplomacy, as in boxing, there is such a thing as 
rolling with the punch. We never seemed to be able to 
do that with Cuba; we just traded punches, and since our 
opponent was outweighed and desperate he tried to hit 
back harder for every blow he received. 

In Cuba we are seeing an extreme form of the in- 
eradicable, all-pervading, ubiquitous Latin American emo- 
tion of anti-Yankeeism. Because so many Americans be- 
came aware of anti-Yankeeism when Fidel Castro began 


attacking the United States, we thought he invented it. 
Because the Communists are anti-American, we thought 
anti-Yankeeism in Latin America must be synonymous 
with communism, and we blamed Vice-President Nixon's 
unhappy experience in 1958 entirely on the Reds. 

There are few North American attitudes more danger- 
ous or more self-deceptive than labeling all these mani- 
festations of anti-American feeling, from Japan to Latin 
America, as Communist. 

A Havana newspaper once put in double 8-column 


This was not in 1959 or 1960. It was in June, 1922, four 
years before Fidel Castro was born, and it was a typical 
reaction to the long period of ruthless control of the 
Cuban economy for the profit of United States companies 
and a small group of corrupt Cuban businessmen and 
politicians. Professor Robert F. Smith of Texas Lutheran 
College, who quotes these headlines, has documented this 
period with overwhelming evidence in his recent book, 
The United States and Cuba. 

"As long as the Cuban Government would meet the 
payments on its foreign debt," he writes, "and maintain 
stability, the United States did not press the issue of 
honesty and democracy in government." 

That, one might say without too much exaggeration, 
sums up United States policy toward Cuba in the six 
decades that ended with the Castro Revolution. 

We must recognize that just as we are fiercely and 
emotionally anti-Communist, many Latin American poli- 



ticians, students, intellectuals and industrial workers are 
anti-Yankee. The commencement of wisdom in this field 
is to recognize that there are some natural and legitimate 
reasons for anti-Yankeeism in Latin America. The senti- 
ment is used with great effect by the Communists, but it 
is an instrument, a weapon that they pick up. They did 
not forge it. 

When we ask what we Yankees have got that so irritates 
and frightens the Latin Americans, which the Russians 
have not got, the answer is that we are there and have 
been there for 150 years. We are the Devil that they know. 

There has been anti-Yankeeism in Cuba for a long 
catalog of reasons going back to its struggles against 
Spain throughout the nineteenth century. We think the 
Cubans should be grateful for our intervention in the 
Spanish-American War. They resent the way we inter- 
vened, how we fought the war, and what we did after- 

They had fought for ten desperate, bloody, destructive 
years for independence from the Spaniards, 1868 to 1878. 
We stood by, and sold arms to the Spaniards. They rose 
again in 1895 and had been fighting hard and, they think, 
successfully for three years when we decided to intervene. 
We fought for 114 days with total casualties of less than 
2,500 and of those nearly 2,000 were from disease, not 

With the war won, we would not let the Cuban troops 
share our triumphant entry into Santiago de Cuba. After 
the war, we occupied the island for five years, a fairly 
good occupation, but what country likes to be militarily 


occupied by a foreign power? Then we forced the Cubans 
to put the Platt Amendment into their Constitution. Its 
key Article III read as follows: 

The Government of Cuba consents that the United States may 
exercise the right to intervene for the preservation of Cuban 
independence, the maintenance of a government adequate for 
the protection of life, property, and individual liberty. . . . 

We started intervening in 1906~-a shameful admin- 
istration under Charles E. Magoon. We landed the Marines 
in 1912 and 1917. Even when there was not physical, 
military occupation there was a more or less complete 
economic domination. A series of crises in the autumn of 
1929, for instance, bankrupted the Government and peo- 
ple of Cuba, but permitted Wall Street to get economic 

Finally, with the advent of Franklin D. Roosevelt's 
Good Neighbor Policy, the Platt Amendment was abro- 
gated in 1934. Yet, it still rankles and Fidel Castro, who 
was only seven years old in 1934, resents it as do all his 

Cubans blame us for the overwhelming role that sugar 
has played in their economy, with the imbalances it 
brought, the social inequities of profits going to a few 
people, many of them North Americans, and the unem- 
ployment it caused during the eight or nine months of 
the year between harvests. 

Nationalism is a powerful force in the modem world 
and is exceptionally strong in Latin America. Is it any 
wonder the demand for "sovereignty and independence" 



from the United States was so insistent in Cuba from the 
beginning of the century? 

Add to all this the culminating horror and indignity of 
the Batista dictatorship of 1952-59, during which the 
United States favored Batista, and one has, in schematic 
form, the reasons for Cuban anti-Yankeeism. In many re- 
spects the Cubans were wrong, unreasonable and unfair 
to us, but the important thing is that this is the way a 
great Hody of them felt for three generations. 

History often depends on the point of view. Like 
politics, it is an art, not a science. Whether the reasons 
were good or bad, Fidel Castro, as I said before, is taking 
revenge for generations of Cubans. 

This anti-Yankeeism in Latin America has nothing to 
do with the attitude toward individual North Americans. 
Latin Americans are invariably as friendly, cordial and 
hospitable to us as they can possibly be. This has always 
been true of the Cubans and there was no excuse for the 
American press campaign depicting Havana as a danger- 
ous, hostile city, or for the U.S. State Department ban 
on tourism to Cuba except as a move in our cold war 
with the Castro regime. There is no excuse now for pre- 
venting American students and teachers from going to 
Cuba to study the situation there. 

However, nothing could be more foolish or less pro- 
ductive than to beat our breasts and take the blame for 
everything that goes wrong in. the hemisphere. The fail- 
ure of the ruling classes in Latin America to grasp what 
was happening, to see the handwriting on the wall, to 
make social and economic reforms, to move from Spanish 



colonialism and feudalism into the 1960's is appalling to 
contemplate. Whom the gods would destroy they first 
make madand these people are going to be destroyed 
if they do not come to their senses. We can only help them 
to help themselves. 

Moreover, it would be folly to ignore the fact that 
along with the criticism and antagonism there is also a 
great fund of respect, admiration, good will and friendship 
toward us in Latin America. These are also assets that 
we can draw upon. The anti-Yankeeism has a good deal of 
the exasperation and disappointment one feels toward a 
friend who has let one down. 

Ijlistory, geography and economics have always acted 
to link Cuba to the United States and our people to each 
other. The present break between us cannot last. I had 
occasion to write Fidel in December, 1959, when the 
quarreling was getting acute. 

"We were sorry to miss seeing you on our vacation in 
Cuba last month," I wrote, "but as it was a vacation I 
did not feel it was fair to be bothering you. Afterwards I 
wished we could have had a talk, as I am perturbed by 
the conflict between our two countries. I foresee a period 
of great strain and difficulties which will require careful 
management on both sides. There is much misunder- 
standing, in the United States of Cuba and in Cuba of the 
United States. I wish we could all forget the past and 
only remember what Lord Palmerston once said; *We 
have no perpetual allies and we have no perpetual 
enemies. Our interests are perpetual/ Cuba's interests are 



bound to ours and ours to Cuba's and no policy in Havana 
or Washington that forgets this can succeed." 

Statesmanship was lacking on both sides. We had no 
right, on our part, to feel self-righteous. 

It is hard for us North Americans to understand that 
people can dislike and resent intensely the things that we 
do or have done in the past, when we have meant well 
or do not know what our predecessors did. It did not 
seem to have occurred to Americans, in the press or in 
Congress, that the Cubans had any right or reason to be 
hostile toward the United States. We should have made 
the effort to realize that they had a number of reasons, 
some of them good, and that their feelings were sincerely 
held and not the result of perverseness, wickedness or 

'We are getting into trouble," as James Reston wrote 
in The New York Times, "because we are not seeing our- 
selves as others see us and not seeing others as they 
actually are/' 

The "Apostle" and hero of Cuban independence, Jose 
Marti, warned his people seventy-five years ago that they 
must achieve freedom both from Spain and the United 
States. They did not do so until 1959 and it remains to 
be seen whether they can make it stick. 

"Colonialism," the Puerto Rican official who is now 
Assistant Secretary of State in the U.S. State Depart- 
ment, Arturo Morales Carri6n, wrote, "does not merely 
subsist under a colonial status. Countries enjoying full 
sovereignty on paper may suffer from colonialism in their 
economic life, their political action or their intellectual 


outlook. Colonialism, among other things, is a condition 
in which basic policies involving a people's economic 
existence, political organization or cultural and spiritual 
life, axe dictated from afar, by a power remote and dif- 
ferent, and implemented by local representatives of that 
power, not directly responsible to the people." 

This was the condition with Cuba. In 1958, United 
States interests controlled 80 per cent of Cuban utilities, 
90 per cent of the mines, 90 per cent of the cattle ranches, 
all of the oil refining and distribution (with the Royal 
Dutch Shell) and 40 per cent of the sugar industry. 

There has been a great deal of nonsense written and 
spoken about the United States sugar quota system and 
the "generous" subsidy that we are supposed to have pro- 
vided Cuba by paying about two cents a pound above 
the world price of sugar for our imports from Cuba. This 
higher price was a subsidy for the American domestic 
sugar producers in order to protect their internal markets. 
They could not produce profitably at the Cuban price. 

It is true that Cuba benefited, of course, but as a coun- 
terpart the United States obtained substantial tariff advan- 
tages for its exports to Cuba. Moreover, the sugar policy 
in general saddled Cuba with a distorted, one-commodity 
economy at the mercy of the American Congress. At best, 
it was a mutually beneficial arrangement that did not call 
for self-righteousness on our part. Any future arrange- 
ment should be, and doubtless wiU be, bilateral in scoj>e^ 

Sugar was more than an industrial commodity to the 
Cubans; it was a symbol of their subjection to the United 
States and of American power over them. When we 



wanted to punish Cuba in the worst possible way, we cut 
off the sugar quota. This was a foolish move, which made 
matters worse for both of us, but it seemed an obvious 
thing to do. It was a power move and was typical of the 
fact that not only Cubans, but all Latin Americans are 
subject to the ubiquitous power of the "Colossus of the 

Naturally, as a tactic anti-Yankeeism was useful to 
Premier Castro in sustaining the popular fervor for the 
Revolution and* in winning support around the hemi- 
sphere. A revolution is like a fire. It blazes as long as 
there is something to feed 014. Fidel has to keep throwing 
things on the fire to make a good blaze, and nothing is so 
inflammable as "Yankee imperialism." Jean Paul Sartre 
pointed out that if the Yankees had not existed, Fidel 
would have had to invent them. We have played a role, 
for Castro, somewhat similar to that played by the Jews, 
for Hitler. 

As early as February 20, 1959, Fidel angrily declared 
that the United States had been "interfering in Cuban 
affairs for more than fifty years' 7 and that now was the 
time for Cuba to "solve its own problems." 

The day before on February 19 Philip Bonsai arrived 
to take up his post as American Ambassador in succession 
to the unfortunate and amateurish Earl E. T. Smith. 
Bonsai was one of our most expert career officers, with a 
fine record in Colombia and Bolivia. He was sympathetic 
to the ideals of the Cuban Revolution in their 'early 
democratic, non-communistic form. But as an Ambassador 
he failed, 



It was a curious quirk of history that Bonsai should 
have been a direct descendant of Gouverneur Morris, 
who was United States envoy to Paris during the French 
Revolution. As it happened, this did not give Philip 
Bonsai the mentality or temperament to understand or 
sympathize with the sort of revolution Cuba was experi- 
encing. Moreover and this was the real handicap the 
aristocratic, precise, rational Bonsai was the last person 
in the world to strike up a friendship with a wild young 
revolutionary like Fidel Castro. Bonsai could not do in 
Cuba what Josephus Daniels did so successfully with 
President Lazaro Cdrdenas in Mexico. 

Bonsai could see only the American point of view. The 
Cuban point of view not only made no sense to him, he 
found Fidel Castro positively "sinister," Fidel on his part 
could not remotely understand and appreciate a person 
like Philip Bonsai. This was typical of what was happen- 
ing, on a national plane, between Cubans and Americans. 

Nietzsche has his mythical seer, Zarathustra say: "That 
is my truth; now tell me yours." There has been a Cuban 
truth about this Revolution and an American truth, and 
the two often differed. There was also an inability to 
understand that a revolution has a logic of its own. 

Governor Munoz Marin of Puerto Rico, although he 
and his Government were under attack from the Fidel- 
istas, warned Americans from the beginning not to let 
themselves become enemies of the Cuban Revolution. 

The man who, to me, is the wisest, most understanding, 
most clearheaded of all American journalists, Walter 
Lippmann, wrote back in July, 1959: 



"For the thing we should never do in dealing with 
revolutionary countries, in which the world abounds, is 
to push them behind an iron curtain raised by ourselves. 
On the contrary, even when they have been seduced and 
subverted and are drawn across the line, the right thing 
to do is to keep the way open for their return/' 

This was always good advice, but it was never taken. 
President Eisenhower, himself, has given us a date when 
a war to the finish was decided upon. After the ill-fated 
invasion attempt of April, 1961, he confessed that he had 
given orders for the training and equipping of the Cuban 
refugees on March 17, 1960. 

Theodore Draper reminds us that former Vice-President 
Nixon advocated training Cuban guerrilla forces to over- 
throw Castro as early as April, 1959. This is typical of the 
hopeless ignorance of all the factors at work which has 
motivated so much of American policy toward Cuba. In 
April, 1959, only the worst type of Batistiano exiles could 
have been used for such a purpose. 

Eisenhower's decision could hardly have been a sudden 
one. It may have been a reaction to the visit to Cuba by 
Anastas Mikoyan, the Soviet Deputy Premier, in Febru- 
ary, 1960. A trade pact was signed in Havana between the 
Soviet Union and Cuba. In any event, I would feel sure 
that from the beginning, the overriding consideration in 
our hostility to the Castro regime was connected with 

The President's decision was naturally kept secret. The 
work was entrusted to the Central Intelligence Agency, 
thus setting in motion what was to prove the most futile, 



stupid and costly blunder ever made in the course of 
United States relations with Latin America. It was, in- 
cidentally, President Eisenhower's contention that Amer- 
ican armed forces would be required at the very least, 
some air cover for the invading elements if they were 
sent in. 

So far as any of us knew during that spring of 1960, 
the decisive act against the Castro Government was the 
cutting of the sugar quota, which came early in July, 
1960. In June, Fidel had demanded that the American 
and British refineries in Cuba handle Soviet oil, which 
he could get cheaper than the Venezuelan oil and without 
having to pay precious dollars. Since the Cuban Govern- 
ment already owed the companies more than $50,000,000, 
and since the Americans and British were in a global 
petroleum "war" with the Russians, it was not unreason- 
able for the oil companies to refuse. The Cuban operation 
was a very small one for these colossal organizations. It 
may have been thought that Cuba could not get along 
without Venezuelan oil. If so, this was a miscalculation. 

The really important decision was the punitive action 
taken afterwards by President Eisenhower. It is true that 
there had been almost intolerable pressure from Congress 
to do something. American feelings against Fidel Castro 
and his Government were intense. 

There were two policy calculations. The first was that 
if the United States went on doing nothing in the face 
of Cuban provocations like the confiscations of American 
property, a dangerous example would be set for the rest 
of Latin America. In this respect, I would say that taking 



economic sanctions against Cuba in violation of our treaty 
obligations under the Bogota Charter counteracted any 
positive effects we may have gained. On the other hand, 
some of the Latin American sugar-growing countries- 
Mexico, Brazil, Peru benefited by increased or new 

The second calculation was that Cuba had to export 
her sugar to us and would suffer so greatly that the Castro 
regime would be fatally weakened. This was typical of 
the constant underestimation of the Castro regime's 
strength and the determination of Fidel Castro to carry 
on, whatever the cost. 

Cutting the sugar quota once and for all threw the 
Castro Government irrevocably into the CommuJiist 
camp. There are only two doors through which an under- 
developed country can go in the present world. When we 
shut and locked ours, Cuba had to become dependent on 
the Soviet bloc. Without Soviet oil and without the extra 
sales of sugar to the Iron Curtain countries the Castro 
regime would have collapsed in a matter of weeks. With 
Communist help it could go on indefinitely. 

As the months passed and as it became clear that Fidel 
Castro was carrying on, no recourse was left to Washing- 
ton except to try to arrange for the overthrow of the 
revolutionary Government by arms, which is to say, an 
invading force that we would train, equip and send into 

This seemed to the United States Government to be all 
the more necessary because Fidel was in process of get- 
ting arms from behind the Iron Curtain. One of our 


earliest and most foolish decisions had been to prevent 
Fidel from getting some jet planes from the British. 
When that happened, he naturally went where he could 
get arms. 

All though the latter half of 1960 exiles were pouring 
into Florida from Cuba. It became possible to build 
up an invading force that did not have to be largely 

The full story of the invasion fiasco requires no retelling 
here. For the purposes of calculating United States rela- 
tions with Cuba and, indirectly, with the rest of Latin 
America, it is only necessary to keep certain salient facts 
in mind. 

The decision to support an invasion, as stated above, 
was first made by the Eisenhower Administration. It was 
a foolish decision, based on misinformation and a failure 
to understand the effect of such an act on hemispheric 

Every student of Latin American affairs recognized that 
the era of military interventions by the United States had 
to end. We are still paying a high price throughout Latin 
America for the "Big Stick" policies. The doctrine of 
non-intervention is considered almost sacred by Latin 
Americans. They struggled for nearly fifty years to get it. 
Even our indirect intervention in Guatemala in 1953-54 
has done us great harm. 

Of course, we argue that the policy of non-intervention 
was never meant to condone intervention in the hemi- 
sphere by international communism. Even if that argu- 



ment is granted, the reaction should be collective, not 

President Kennedy also favored building up and send- 
ing in a Cuban armed force. He said so in the presidential 
campaign and was dishonestly attacked for it by Vice- 
President Nixon who knew all about the preparations for 
invasion being made and who favored them, as he boasted 
later. In any event, Mr. Kennedy both spawned the mon- 
ster and inherited it. What he did realize was the danger 
and folly of using American air cover and naval support. 

Yet by that time (the final decision was made on April 
4, 1961) only American military intervention could have 

The most important feature for historians to recognize 
in the whole sorry business is that the invasion could not 
possibly have succeeded. I know of no one inside or out- 
side of the United States Government who has been able 
to make any sense out of this truly incredible adventure. 

This is what was frightening about it. The Central In- 
telligence Agency was making the most .obvious mistakes 
and we all knew that in adavnce. The whole operation 
seems to have been entrusted to one Frank Bender. Allen 
Dulles and his deputy, Richard Bissell, do not seem to 
have known what was happening in detail. The intelli- 
gence section of the CIA was not in close contact with 
Bender and the operational sector. In any event, the 
CIA's information could not have been more mistaken. 
It was an appallingly perfect example of intelligence 
agents making their "information" conform to the plan 
they were determined to work out. 


Anybody who really knew what the true situation was 
in Cuba could have told the CIA and the Kennedy Ad- 
ministration that there would not be a popular uprising in 
Cuba. Fidel Castro still had popular support and had 
built up a powerful army and militia. To cap the climax 
of their folly, the CIA refused to allow the underground 
organization of Manuel Ray and his Movimiento Revolu- 
cionario del Pueblo (MRP) to take part in the attempt. 
Yet the MRP had the only efficient underground in Cuba! 

The reason for this was that Frank Bender, and whom- 
ever he worked for and with, considered the MRP to be 
"Leftist." It was formed at the top by men who had 
worked with the Castro Government in the beginning 
and broke with it over the Communist issue. They were 
anti-Communist, liberal, democratic and therefore slightly 
Left-of-Center. Apparently, that is considered a danger- 
ous position by the CIA. 

Bender would not give Ray and his associates money or 
help. Almost everything went to the Frente Revolucionario 
Democrdtico (FRD), composed of admirable but pre~ 
Batista and rather conservative men. 

The folly of the CIA was compounded still more by 
putting Batistiano military officers in command positions 
despite what was announced as orders from the White 
House that no Bastista followers were to take part in the 
invasion. On the contrary, so far as can be seen, the 
CIA intended to install a Batista-type regime in Cuba at 
the first opportunity. 

In all this, I do not consider it fair to blame the Cuban 
exiles. They should not be held accountable. Their emo- 



tlons naturally blinded them. They believed what they 
passionately wanted to believe. They risked everydiing 
and paid the greatest price. The United States Govern- 
ment did not back them as strongly as it had promised. 
What was inexcusable was for Americans to accept their 
information and their hopes as valid. 

Let it be noted in passing that the Cubans could not 
keep what they were doing secret. The Castro Govern- 
ment obviously knew just what was shaping up and so, 
in a general way, did we newspapermen from late 1960 
onwards. When I was in Cuba in August, 1960, I was 
closely questioned by Fidel Castro and others about an 
American intervention they believed we were preparing. 
Knowing nothing at the time, I could even deny any 
belief that we would be so foolish as to prepare for an 
invasion by Cuban exiles. Looking back later I realized 
that Fidel had some information about the preparations. 

In this connection, since I believe that the bitter 
draught of this whole dreadful business should be drunk 
to the dregs, it has to be noted that our Government lied 
to us about the invasion even after it had started. That 
anyone who means so much to the United States and to 
our image abroad as Adlai Stevenson should have been 
led to give a false picture to the United Nations of what 
we had done and what had happened is sad to contem- 

Afterwards we learned that only Senator William Ful- 
bright, Under Secretary Chester Bowles and White House 
aide Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. opposed the adventure, bul 
Schlesinger seems not to have felt himself importani 


enough to protest vigorously and Bowles was not con- 
sulted. Not a single other major figure tried to dissuade 
the wavering President Kennedy. 

Thus, history will record a list of men at the top of the 
United States Government, all of whom have respon- 
sibility in an act that could not succeed and that was 
bound to do enormous damage to the United States. 
These men are President Kennedy; Secretary of State 
Dean Rusk; Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara; 
Secretary of the Treasury Douglas Dillon; General Lyman 
Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Admiral 
Arleigh Burke, Chief of Naval Operations; Adolf Berle, 
head of the Latin American Task Force; Allen Dulles, 
head of the CIA; his assistant, Richard Bissell; Assistant 
Secretary of Defense Paul Nitze; and the White House 
adviser, McGeorge Bundy. Perhaps we should include 
former President Eisenhower and former Vice-President 

One can exaggerate the importance of Cuba to us and 
of this fiasco to our general status. We will recover from it, 
somewhat damaged to be sure. But if the most important 
men in the United States Government can make such a 
blunder, what protection have we all got against other 
and perhaps more important blunders? 

Let us return to Cuba and our relations with that 
dramatic island. 

The future of Cuba will not be in the hands of the 
exiles if the experience of other nations, like Italy, Ger- 
many and Spain is a criterion. Those who stay and live 
and suffer through revolutions are the ones who pick 



up the pieces later and forge a new nation. The exile 
loses touch; he ceases to be representative; he will not 
have the confidence of the people or of the underground 

The country changes while he is gone. It moves on to 
something else. The clock cannot be turned back after a 
social revolution as drastic as Cuba's. 

This does not mean that forward-looking, capable, 
patriotic Cuban exiles will have no role in the future of 
their country. The men of the past will go and that 
includes the pre-Batista past of Presidents Grau San 
Martin and Prio Socanis. If the United States had suc- 
ceeded in putting them into power in April, 1961, they 
would not have lasted. They are anachronisms; they 
represent a Cuba that has gone into history. 

The men who might be representative of what Cuba 
now wants and needs, the men who were repudiated by 
the CIA, were those who had helped to make the Cuban 
Revolution, who served it in its early hopeful non- 
communistic stage and who want to make a new Cuba. 
These were men like Manuel Ray, who was Minister of 
Public Works; Rufo Lopez Fresquet, Minister of the 
Treasury; Raul Chibs, the educator and Felipe Pazos, 
President of the National Bank of Cuba. 

None of these men may get their chance. Social revolu- 
tions normally take a long time to work themselves out. 
The French Revolution lasted from 1789 to 1815; the 
Mexican from 1910 to 1940; the Russian (I would say) 
from 1917 to the death of Stalin in 1953; the Italian Fascist 
Revolution ran from 1922 to 1943; the German Nazi from 


1933 to 1945. The Chinese Revolution began in 1949 and 
is still going strong. The Bolivian Revolution started in 
1952 and is far from over. 

In modern times, the mechanism of the totalitarian 
state is almost impregnable. The Fascist and Nazi regimes 
had to be overthrown by military invasions. The Franco 
and Salazar regimes have gone on for decades. No gov- 
ernment within the Sino-Soviet bloc has been overthrown. 
The nearest thing to the defeat of a totalitarian regime 
by counter-revolution occurred in Argentina in 1955, when 
General Juan Peron was driven from power. However., 
Argentina did not have a real totalitarian structure. 

The weakness of the Castro regime in Cuba lies in its 
dependence on Fidel Castro. The totalitarianism is still a 
facade although it may be getting a basis in the new 
unified political party. In this respect Cuba resembles 
Italy in the early stages of the Fascist Revolution. Had 
Mussolini been eliminated before 1926, by which time the 
Fascist State had been constructed, fascism would have 

This does not mean that the Cuban Revolution would 
end or that Cuba would return to pre-Castro days if Fidel 
were to be assassinated. It is too late for that. The eggs 
have been scrambled. Whatever came out of the chaos 
and bloodshed which would follow the elimination of 
Fidel Castro would be different from the Cuba of 1903- 

This is what American policy makers did not perhaps 
still do not realize. The attempt to turn Cuba back to 
the era of Batista was utter folly. 



President Kennedy, Secretary of State Rusk and other 
officials and advisers are paying lip service to the ideal 
of social reforms in Cuba. All we have done so far is to 
try to overthrow the Castro regime by every means in our 
power short of using American armed forces in order to 
install a regime that the White House believed would 
recreate the pre-Batista era and that the CIA intended 
to turn into a neo-Batista era. 

At best there would have had to be a regime, imposed 
by the United States, nominally headed by Jose Miro 
Cardona and the Revolutionary Council, but actually kept 
in power by American economic aid. A long period of 
guerrilla perhaps civil warfare would have followed. 
The effect on our position in Latin America and on our 
relations with the hemisphere would have been cata- 

One has to end by saying: "Thank the Lord for the 
United States and for Cuba that the invasion of April 17, 
1961, failed!" 

With the collapse of the invasion President Kennedy 
was faced with the realization that the Cuban problem 
was greater than ever. Fidel Castro's regime was stronger; 
so was the Communist apparatus in Cuba and throughout 
Latin America; the Cuban exiles were defeated beyond 
any possibility of a comeback for a long time; the under- 
ground opposition in Cuba had been badly weakened; 
the reputation of the United States in Latin America had 
been severely damaged. More capital left Latin America 
in two weeks after the invasion than in the previous two 
years. As Theodore Draper wrote: "The ill-fated invasion 



of Cuba last April was one of those rare politico-military 
events a perfect failure." 

For a day or two there seems to have been something 
approaching panic in Washington with the hotheads 
urging President Kennedy to throw in the American 
forces. The President wisely resisted these pressures, but 
he did make some tough pronouncements. The most 
important came in an address to the American Society 
of Newspaper Editors on April 20 when the magnitude 
of the disaster had just been realized. In a masterly under- 
statement he conceded that "there are, from this sobering 
episode, useful lessons for us all to learn." 

"Any unilateral American intervention in the absence 
of an external attack upon ourselves or an ally would 
have been contrary to our traditions and to our inter- 
national obligations," he said. "But let the record show 
that our restraint is not inexhaustible. 

"Should it ever appear that the inter- American doctrine 
of non-interference merely conceals or excuses a policy of 
non-action; if the nations of this hemisphere should fail 
to meet their commitments against outside Communist 
penetration, then I want it clearly understood that this 
Government will not hesitate in meeting its primary obli- 
gations, which are the security of our nation/' 

Two days before, there had been an exchange of mes- 
sages with Khrushchev in which the Soviet Premier had 
said: "We shall render the Cuban people and their Gov- 
ernment all necessary assistance in beating back the 
armed attack on Cuba/ 7 and the President replied that 
"the United States intends no military intervention in 



Cuba," This statement has been reiterated by Mr. Kennedy 
and by Secretary of State Rusk and it should be taken as 
definitive in present circumstances. 

However, the speech to the A.S.N.E. contains a clear 
threat to use the Monroe Doctrine if the other Latin 
American States do not join us in preventing "Com- 
munist penetration/* 

As a matter of fact, one of the casualties of the Cuban 
Revolution may prove to be the Monroe Doctrine, al- 
though there is unlikely ever to be an official repudiation 
of it. The Doctrine is woven too firmly and too emotionally 
into the fabric of American history and psychology ever 
to be thrown away. 

It is worth recalling the key phrase in President Jatties 
Monroe's message to Congress on December 2, 1823: 

"We should consider any attempt on their [the Euro- 
pean powers] part to extend their system to any portion 
of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety." 

In this post-war period we stretched the meaning of 
Monroe's phrase, "to extend their system," to subversion 
and control by international communism. This has been a 
bipartisan policy and has been clearly expressed in the 
Truman and Eisenhower, as well as Kennedy Administra- 

In a press conference on July 13, 1960, answering a 
question on Cuba, Premier Khrushchev said: "We con- 
sider that the Monroe Doctrine has outlived its time, has 
outlived itself, has died, so to say, a natural death." 

The State Department lost no time in rejecting this 
interpretation. A statement was issued the next day which 



said: "The principles of the Monroe Doctrine are as valid 
today as they were in 1823 when the Doctrine was pro- 
claimed. Furthermore, the Monroe Doctrine 7 s purpose of 
preventing any extension to this hemisphere of a despotic 
political system contrary to the independent status of the 
American States is supported by the Inter-American 
security system through the Organization of American 

In theory, the latter statement is true; in reality the 
Latin American nations have never liked the Monroe 
Doctrine. Any exercise or 'threat to employ power made 
by the Colossus of the North was invariably resented 
and the Monroe Doctrine is a unilateral document that 
forever holds such a threat over the hemisphere. The 
Doctrine cannot be invoked by a Latin American country; 
we are the ones who decide when and if it applies. 

When President Kennedy threatened in his speech to 
the A.S.N.E. to invoke the Monroe Doctrine, he sent a 
figurative shiver of distaste through Latin America. There 
is agreement with us in wanting to oppose the interven- 
tion of the Sino-Soviet bloc in the Western Hemisphere, 
but Latin America is not asking us to lead a crusade 
against communism. The concentration of American policy 
on anti-communism at any price is always criticized in 
Latin America, except by those dictators and demagogues 
who profit by this American obsession. 

If it is granted that we are within our right in saying 
that intervention by international communism is a viola- 
tion of the Monroe Doctrine, then there is no doubt that 
Fidel Castro and Nikita Khmshchev are flouting the Doc- 



trine. It has been challenged before, but the only power 
capable of nullifying it Great Britain in the nineteenth 
centurywas concerned with trade and investments in the 
hemisphere, not territorial or political conquest. 

It was, however, an Englishman who put a finger on 
the legal and logical weakness of the Monroe Doctrine. 
This was Lord Salisbury, then the British Foreign Secre- 
tary, during a dispute over Venezuela and British Guiana 
in 1895. "The Government of the United States," he 
wrote, "is not entitled to affirm as a universal proposition 
with reference to a number of independent States for 
whose conduct it assumes no responsibility, that its inter- 
ests are necessarily concerned in whatever may befall 
those States simply because they are situated in the West- 
em Hemisphere." 

This, put in much less diplomatic language, is the posi- 
tion that Urushchev and Castro take in other words, 
that Cuba has a right to work out her own political and 
economic destiny and that so have all the other Latin 
American States. In theory we do not deny this right; 
in practice we have put all Latin American countries on 
notice that we will not permit any of them to go largely 
or wholly Communist. 

But we have thus far failed to put this policy into effect 
with regard to Cuba! This is one of the many extraordi- 
nary developments that have come out of the Cuban 
Revolution. As a general proposition, the ability of the 
small powers to defy the large, even on their doorsteps, 
is a new fact of life in the world today a hard one for the 
United States to digest. 



Of course, we have not heard the end of the story. 
There are influential elements on the American scene 
(the whole powerful conservative Republican movement 
headed by Senator Barry Goldwater, for instance) who 
want to send the American Marines in to "clean up" Cuba. 
We can, of course, conquer Cuba. Many American Hves 
would be lost, as well as Cuban lives; the island would 
suffer fearful destruction; there would be guerrilla war- 
fare for as long as the American Army was in occupation; 
and the Good Neighbor policy, not to mention the Organ- 
ization of American States, would be destroyed for many 
years. Still, we could do it. 

President Kennedy wisely has no intention of com- 
mitting that folly. In fact, he made a pronouncement 
about the Monroe Doctrine while he was campaigning 
for President which sounds curious in the light of his post- 
invasion statements. There should be, he said, "an admin- 
istration that realizes that neither the Monroe Doctrine 
nor the old Good Neighbor policy of Franklin D. Roose- 
velt, is adequate for the Latin America of 1959-60. We 
need now a new policy " 

The concept of accepting the existence of a Communist 
or pro-Communist regime in Latin America was not con- 
templated by John Kennedy either as a Senator or as 
President. Nevertheless, it is one that students of the area 
are discussing, and it has been put forward by a number 
of European commentators. In Europe, where nations live 
with Communist countries as neighborsand between 
the wars with Nazi and Fascist countries this idea is not 



It may be that die present strength and influence of the 
Russo-Chinese Communist bloc, which are increasing, 
could not be contained short of World War III if they 
intensify political and economic intervention in Latin 
America. It may also prove too dangerous in present cir- 
cumstances to act to prevent a Communist regime's arising 
in Cuba if the Cuban revolutionaries should try to install 
one later. 

The moment has not yet come when a decision has to 
be made on this problem, but we must be prepared for it. 
If the choice be acceptance of some Communist regimes 
in Latin America and of greater penetration by the Sino- 
Soviet bloc, or a Third World War, it is hard to see us 
making the decision for a holocaust. This dreadful choice 
will not have to be made, as stated before, if the United 
States with Latin American cooperation tackles in a posi- 
tive way the social and economic demands of the Latin 
American peoples. 

Moreover, to be practical, we should recognize the 
obvious fact that Latin America is too far away from the 
Sino-Soviet bloc to be regarded as vital and therefore as 
a cause for war. The Russians think in terms of spheres 
of influence, and Khrushchev would in a pinch accept 
the fact that Latin America is vital to us. He would also 
understand, better than anybody, that we are unlikely in- 
definitely to put up with a hostile power on our doorstep. 
When that time comes Fidel Castro, Che Guevara et al 
are going to discover that so far as the Soviet Union is 
concerned, Cuba is expendable. 

Meanwhile, this argument is getting ahead of the facts. 



The Castro regime is not yet Communist, despite Wash- 
ington's propaganda, and in any event, its communistic 
connections and coloration do not constitute the chief 
danger to the United States. Fideltemo is what should 
frighten the powers that be in Washington, not com- 

We are afraid of communism, but fear is not the best 
defense against an enemy. Communism exists; it has its 
historic roots, its popular support and a nation of enor- 
mous power and wealth behind its drive, just as capitalism 
has. Communism cannot be destroyed or conjured away 
any more. The United States must leam to live with it, 
perhaps even in the Western Hemisphere, or fight a 
nuclear war. 

Fidel Castro has carefully refrained from provoking the 
United States to a point where we would have had justi- 
fication to take military action against him. He obviously 
never had the slightest intention of attacking our naval 
base of Guantdnamo Bay in the eastern end of the island 
because he knew we would fight for it. The American 
press never seemed to grasp this fact. 

Sooner or later we are going to have to give up Guan- 
tdnamo Bay because in the modem world it is not possible 
indefinitely to hold a military base in a foreign country 
against the wishes of the people of that country. France, 
Britain and Spain were unable to hold on to their bases 
in the Middle East and North Africa, and we are having 
to give up our air bases in Morocco. 

However, we have the power to hold Guantdnamo and 
Fidel knows it, One may also be certain that he has no 



intention of sending military expeditions against any other 
country in the Caribbean or in Central America; and 
there is no need or reason for Soviet missile bases. Cuba 
did not invade us. We by proxy invaded Cuba, having 
used American bases to train and transship Cuban troops 
with the connivance of our virtual satellites, Guatemala 
and Nicaragua. We are the ones who broke our treaty 
commitments and violated the Bogota Charter, which is 
the basis of the Inter-American System. This is not going 
to be forgotten quickly in Latin America. 

Our policies, however, have not changed just because 
we made a fearful mess of the Cuban affair. We still say that 
we will accept a Cuban revolution that is to say, social 
reformsbut that we will not accept communism or nego- 
tiate with Cuba unless it repudiates its Communist con- 
nections. Since, as I pointed out before, this would be the 
end of the Cuban Revolution, and since Fidel Castro and 
his associates will die before they give up their Revolu- 
tion, we have reached an impasse. 

We can continue to argue that it is unrealistic to apply 
the doctrine of non-intervention only to the United 
States. It should not and must not, we say, protect the 
Soviet Union and Red China when they intervene in the 
hemisphere. This is a logical argument and the Latin 
American Governments seem to agree with it in principle. 
What they do not accept is our contention that the Castro 
regime is Communist and that Cuba is a satellite of the 
Communist bloc. 

Besides, they do not take the same attitude toward 
communism that we do. The cold war has only just begun 



to affect them. They are not in a life-and-death struggle 
with communism, as we are. They do notand never will 
accept our extreme position of anti-communism at all 
costs, even at the cost of supporting brutal and predatory 
military dictatorships in Latin America. They will support 
us against the Communists only when they are convinced 
that we believe in political liberty for them as well as for 

We have not yet made it clear to Latin Americans how 
far we would be willing to see them go in making their 
social reforms. We have made it clear, by our Cuban 
policy, that if we can help it we will not permit them to 
try to solve their social and economic problems the Cuban 
way. Perhaps there is no middle way peaceful, demo- 
cratic, evolutionary such as we want to see. Perhaps we 
will be faced with the choice of one of the two evils 
the Left-wing, socialistic, FideHsta way, or the Right- 
wing, reactionary, military dictatorship way. If so, our 
record shows that we would choose the Right-wing, if 
only because it is anti-Communist, and would hold out 
for "stability" and the status quo. Such regimes would not 
hold out long. 

There is no quicker or better way I know of to demon- 
strate the type of traditional policy that must be aban- 
doned than to cite a brief passage from Professor Robert 
F. Smith's book, The United States and Cuba. 

"The late John Foster Dulles told a Senate Committee 
about Venezuela under the dictator P6rez Jimenez:" Smith 



"'Venezuela [said Dulles] is a country which has 
adopted the kind of policies which we think the other 
countries of South America should adopt. Namely, they 
have adopted policies which provide in Venezuela a 
climate which is attractive to foreign capital to come in/ 

"[Dulles] concluded by saying that if all Latin Amer- 
ican countries followed the example of Venezuela, the 
dangers of communism and social disorder would dis- 

Dulles was then, of course, Secretary of State and he 
was testifying to the Senate Committee on Finance. This 
was in 1955 at a time when Venezuela, under General 
P6rez Jimenez, was suffering from as brutal and corrupt 
a tyranny as Latin America has ever seen, and when the 
dictator's policies were clearly leading Venezuela into 
bankruptcy. Our Ambassadors of that period were in- 
timate friends of P&rez Jim6nez. 

This is the sort of American attitude and policy that 
must be abandoned. We have no proof that it has been 

All our Administrations have paid lip service to the 
cause of democracy in Latin America, and the Kennedy 
Administration is no exception. In his inaugural address 
Mr. Kennedy promised "to assist free men and free Gov- 
ernments in casting off the chains of poverty/' The "Alli- 
ance for Progress" plan is intended to do this. The real 
tests are yet to come, and they will be severe tests. 

It is vital that we permit the impetus for change to come 
from within the countries and not impose change upon 
them, even if we could. Yet how are we going to keep 



international communism out o the Western Hemisphere, 
and Fidelismo out of the other countries of Latin America, 
without intervening? This is one of the most serious 
dilemmas that we face in our Latin American policies. 

If the Cuban Revolution succeeds as a social revolu- 
tion, if it raises the Cuban standard of living, diversifies 
the economy, industrializes, brings schools, hospitals, 
homes, land to till and jobs for city workers if it does 
these things or even partly achieves them, we will lose a 
major battle in the cold war. Yet, these are splendid goals, 
the very goals we want to see reached. We contend that 
they cannot be achieved by totalitarian methods or if 
they are, as in Russia, that the price paid will be degrad- 
ing. Besides, anywhere in Latin America the aims would 
be achieved at our expense and would represent a grave 
danger to our security. 

Therefore, if one wants to be logical, the Cuban Revolu- 
tion, from the point of view of American policy, must 
fail. At least, this revolution, the Castro Revolution, must 
fail. At best, we applaud its ideals but not its methods. 
Yet we must have something far, far better to offer the 
Cubans than the pre-Batista or neo-Batista alternative we 
were preparing to foist upon them with the April invasion. 

To Cubans, the policies followed by the United States 
in the first decade of this century or in the early 1930 ? s, 
or during the Batista dictatorship, are vivid, burning 
realities which they deeply resent. Hardly one American 
in a million would know about these policies or agree 
that he should be held responsible for them. And if he did 
know about them and were in the Government, he would 



have the deeper responsibility of protecting the security 
of the United States. 

However, it is to be hoped that Cuba really has taught 
us some lessons, as President Kennedy ruefully confessed. 
They are painful, as lessons often are. 

The traditional policy of the United States toward 
Latin America, it must be repeated here, has been to 
seek stability, under which there could be profitable trade 
and investments, safe supplies of vitally needed raw ma- 
terials, political support in the international organizations 
against the Communist bloc, and a friendly strategic zone 
in a geographic area of vital importance to our continental 
security. In the past, when instability developed we 
moved in with Marines or with the manipulation of eco- 
nomic and political weapons, or with both, as we often 
did in Cuba. 

Let us grant that it is the business of any government 
to look out for its own security and economic strength. 
It is even arguable, in terms of practical power politics, 
that our policies paid off well enough in the past and that 
they were within the range of the normal, expected be- 
havior of great powers in their sphere of influence. 

But times have changed. The dynamism of the con- 
temporary world is turning the concept of stability into 
an oppressive reaction. The ruling classes in Latin Amer- 
ica, who maintain what stability there is, are trying to 
stop the tide from coming in. There must be change. As 
I am continually pointing out, either it comes by social 
and economic reforms made voluntarily by the governing 



classes in Latin America with our aid and encourage- 
ment, or it will come through Leftist revolutions that will 
resemble the Cuban upheaval. 

Evolution or revolution, as President Eisenhower put 
it in 1960. (Incidentally he got the phrase from an edi- 
torial in The New York Times. ) As a policy, it is going to 
be infinitely more difficult and costly than anything we 
faced in the past. The Good Neighbor policy is not enough 
any more. It consisted mostly in ceasing to do things we 
had no right to do. And it cost nothing. 

What is good for the United States is not necessarily 
good for El Salvador, for Ecuador or for Brazil, and we 
certainly do not think that what is good for Russia and 
China is good for Latin America. 

Countries like Brazil are showing pretty clearly that 
they want to work out their own destiny in their own way. 
Brazil is one of the future giants of the world, one of the 
countries which is transforming our bipolar world of the 
United States and the Soviet Union into a multilateral 
world with many first-rate powers. 

If we insist that Latin American nations be like us, 
copy our economies and political systems, and be on our 
side against the Communist bloc, we will lose allies. We, 
as well as the Communists, face resistance in Latin Amer- 
ica. It differs, in our case, in form and quality from the 
resistance to communism but it has a historic, persistent 
base in the nationalistic emotion of anti-Yankeeism, 

Yet, we have a basic advantage, too, for Latin America 
belongs to the West by history, tradition and ideals. 

The changes taking place in Latin America are in- 


evitably bringing a new generation of younger, more 
radical, iconoclastic men into power, men who will re- 
spond to mass pressures for social and economic better- 
ment and who will resist United States leadership. 

History does not flow backwards, as I have already 
remarked. We will not recapture the past. We will never 
again exercise the degree of power or economic domina- 
tion that we used to have. 

The forces that have brought about this change were at 
work for decades before the Cuban revolution. As has 
been said, that Revolution is a result of long pent-up 
historic forces and of social ferments at work everywhere 
in the contemporary world, especially in the underdevel- 
oped areas. 

One might say that Fidel Castro was like Pandora. The 
box was there and all the troubles were in it and he 
opened the box, 

Latin America is moving fast, and not necessarily with 
us or toward us. The social and economic pressures have 
revolutionary possibilities. Our policies to date have not 
been successful They have been too negative, too little, 
too closely tied to dictators and to small ruling classes 
who will become victims of the new social pressures if they 
do not move quickly and make necessary reforms. Stabil- 
ity and the status quo are dreams of the past. 

We have lost the Cuba we knew and dominated, or 
influenced so greatly. Our relations with Cuba will never 
be the same, even when they become friendly again, as 
they must. 

As I have said repeatedly, January 1, 1959, when Fidel 


Castro triumphed, began a new era in Latin America. It 
will be an era of challenge and conflict and danger. The 
New World is no longer new in our United States. We 
represent an older, a mature, a conservative world. This 
is not the world of Latin America. Their world is young; 
it is dynamic; figuratively or literally, it is revolutionary. 

The challenge has come out of Cuba in the voice of 
Fidel Castro. It has been taken up by the Communists, 
but also by the youth, the intellectuals, the oppressed, the 
poor, the ill, the illiterate. It is not the challenge of com- 
munism; it is the challenge of people ordinary people 
for a better way of life, a fairer share of the wealth they 
produce. We, the North Americans, will win or lose to 
the extent that we satisfy these demands, not to the extent 
that we prevent communism or frustrate Fideltemo. 

This Revolution has struck deeply, not because its 
strength comes from Moscow and Peiping, but because it 
comes out of the deep wellsprings of Cuban and Latin 
American history, because it holds a promise as well as a 
threat, because it seeks an answer to questions that are 
tormenting the minds and hearts of all Latin Americans 

We say it is the wrong answer. Well and good! But 
then, we must give a better answer. Not an old answer 
for a new era. 

We can do it, of course. This is still the Western Hemi- 
sphere, our hemisphere. We belong. We have power, 
wealth, ideals, freedom, democracy, things to give, things 
we need. We must shape all this to better purposes than 
in the past. 



A truly astonishing feature of the conflict between 
Cuba and the United States lies in the fact that Fidel 
and his associates are counting upon the defeat of the 
United States in the cold war. They see us as a declining 
power, approaching the fall of our "Empire" just as the 
Romans did in olden times and the British and French 
in the postwar era. They have no illusions about the dis- 
parity in strength between them and us, but they believe 
that they are riding the wave of the future and will share 
the triumph of the "Socialist" forces over ''Yankee im- 

"Cuba is just a small incident," Che Guevara said to me 
the last time I saw him. "You will lose everywhere in the 

The danger to us in such beliefs is obvious. These 
young men, after all, do control Cuba, have considerable 
influence in the hemisphere, and are permitting Cuba to 
be used as a base from which communism, as well as 
Fidelismo can operate to stir up revolution and play the 
Communist game throughout Latin America. 

Whether this was unavoidable or whether our policy 
blunders were to blame has long ceased to be a problem 
to Washington. This is where an academic approach is 
meaningless. Whatever sins North Americans may have 
committed or condoned in Cuba since the Spanish- 
American, War, however responsible our policies eco- 
nomic and political may have been for bringing on the 
Cuban Revolution, even if it were our fault that the 
Castro regime had ended up in the arms of Khrushchev, 


Washington would still say that we will not stand for the 
Communist domination of Cuba. 

By this I presume we mean a Cuban regime actively 
playing a role on the side of the Sino-Soviet bloc against 
the United States and engaged in subverting and stirring 
up anti-American, Leftist social revolutions throughout 
Latin America. If this is what Fidel Castro represents, 
then he and his regime will have to be destroyed. No 
amount of sympathy for Fidel Castro and for the ideals 
and genuine accomplishments of his Revolution could 
lead an American to any other decision. 

On the other hand, an American policy so stupid as to 
seek to restore the pre-Revolutionary situation, as we 
tried to do with the invasion of April, 1961, is no answer. 
It would bring about a state of affairs as damaging to us 
and to Cuba in the long run as the Castro Revolution, 

The hope, surely, must be that the Cuban Revolution 
will run a course that brings social and economic benefits 
to Cuba and that meanwhile can be isolated. Cuba is a 
small, weak, poor country which could be allowed to 
work out its own destiny, even if its government is social- 
istic or communistic. It will not subvert the hemisphere 
or any countries in it if American policies are wise and 

Allowing for all the weapons and power that a totali- 
tarian regime puts in the hands of a modern government, 
I still think that communism could not survive in Cuba, 
The Cuban people are too violent and brave, as well as too 
individualistic, to put up with a totalitarian regime in- 
definitely. In the long run, the Cubans will rid themselves 



of communism, and they are more likely to do so if we let 
them do it and do not try any more foolish stunts like 
the invasion of April, 1961. Cubans did not make good 
use of their liberty when they had it, but they love and 
crave liberty. 

The answer to Fidelismo, as everyone knows and keeps 
saying, is to help bring about the positive social, eco- 
nomic and political reforms in Latin America that will 
make the Cuban Revolution seem unnecessary, irrational, 
undesirable and too costly in terms of human liberty. 

The outcome of the cold war will then be decided on 
more crucial battlefields than Cuba or for that matter, 
Berlin. If our way of life is the better one in the field 
of power politics and in a material as well as moral sense, 
we will win, and the Cuban Revolution will have played 
a role similar in our century to that of its many pre- 
decessors in modern times. 

This will have been a great role, and a worthy one. I 
could never bring myself to condemn it and to condemn 
Fidel Castro outright for what he has done, and especially 
for what he has tried to do. At worst, the role that he and 
his young associates will have played, would resemble 
that of the Jacobins of the French Revolution who applied 
a surgical knife to the body politic, wounding and pain- 
ful, but salutary. 

The French Revolution was a terrible experience for 
France and for Europe, but we of later generations have 
lived and profited by it. The Cuban Revolution, in its 
different way, is proving a harsh and painful experience 
for Cuba and Latin America, but I believe that its ultimate 


effects wiU have been beneficial for the hemisphere. Mexi- 
cans make a similar, and impressive, argument in favor 
of their long and costly social revolution of 1910 to 1940. 

In this analogy (and I do realize how tricky historical 
analogies can be) the United States would be playing a 
role somewhat similar to England's in the French Revolu- 
tion. I first felt this in reading a passage from Louis 
Kronenberger's Kings and Desperate Men about the 
French Revolution: "At the fall of the Bastille most 
Englishmen rejoiced, assuming that the French would 
now take to themselves a constitution and form of gov- 
ernment minutely patterned on the English. But the pent- 
up passions, the accumulated abuses of many generations 
imposed a less graceful outcome. Excitement in France 
turned to confusion, and confusion to terror; the French 
encouraged other nations to revolt, and began a cam- 
paign of aggression which produced Napoleon and sub- 
sided only at Waterloo." 

By substituting Cuba for France and the United States 
for England we do get a striking parallel, except that 
there is no Cuban Napoleon in sight. Those in the United 
States who condemn the Cuban Revolution for its ex- 
cesses, it violence and its tyranny are like Edmund Burke, 
who so brilliantly saw what was wrong with the French 
Revolution and who predicted its excesses but who failed 
so signally to understand the French Revolution. 

It was so much more than he thought or realized! Its 
ideals were transforming Europe and did, indeed, trans- 
form the modern world. The Reign of Terror and even 
the conquests of Napoleon went into history pages that 



we turned and left behind. But "liberty, equality, frater- 
nity/' like "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness/* 
were ideals that lived on and that changed the world, 
even though in this latter half of the twentieth century 
they are still unattainable ideals. 

I would not try to predict what will come of the Cuban 
Revolution or what will remain of it. I only know that 
it will not die; that for all its faults and excesses it con- 
tains ideals and hopes and aspirations for which men and 
women in Latin America will struggle. However it ends 
and all revolutions must end it will not have been made 
in vain. 




"INT ALL MY thirty-eight years on The New 'York Times," 
I said, "I have never seen a big story so misunderstood, 
so misinterpreted and so badly handled as the Cuban 

This ill-tempered, but carefully pondered and earnestly 
meant judgment, was made to the annual conference of 
the American Society of Newspaper Editors in Washing- 
ton in April, 1960. As a matter of fact, I had said much 
the same thing as early as the end of January, 1959, to my 
colleagues in the Overseas Press Club. That was apropos 
of the uncomprehending way the execution of the "war 
criminals" was being handled and the abysmal ignorance 
of Cuba and Cuban history that was being displayed. 

Nothing else I said about the Cuban affair has been so 
widely quoted. It was and continues to be picked up by 
those who favor the Castro regime and who therefore 
agree with me. It was also used by those who feel I have 



misled the American public about Fidel Castro and who 
wax sarcastic. 

I have now been on The Times thirty-nine years and 
will repeat what I said for posterity since I am as firmly 
convinced of it today, as I was from the beginning. I 
never made the charge lightly. I am not a quarrelsome 
man and I value the respect and friendship of my col- 
leagues more than anything in my career. I simply be- 
lieve it is important to put the judgment on record and 
I am certain it is one with which future students of the 
Cuban Revolution and of American journalism will agree. 

By a strange coincidence,, this is the second time that 
the American press has played a major role and a bad 
one in Cuban- American history. 

Dr. Joseph E. Wisan, now head of the History Depart- 
ment of the City College of New York, devoted his doc- 
toral thesis back in 1934 to "The Cuban Crisis as Re- 
flected in the New York Press." The "crisis" he referred 
to was the rebellion against Spain that began in 1895 and 
ended with the Spanish-American War in 1898. 

"The principal cause of our war with Spain/' he wrote, 
"was the public demand for it, a demand too powerful 
for effective resistance by the business and financial 
leaders of the nation or by President McKinley. For the 
creation of the public state of mind, the press was largely 

I am sorry to say that my predecessors in the news- 
paper profession in the 1890*8 were turning out some of 
the wildest fakes that the human mind could conceive 
and the gullibility of readers absorb. I am not talking 



of the fighting stage, during which we had some superb 
war corresponding. I am referring to the preliminary 
period when the New York publishers, headed by the 
young William Randolph Hearst and his Morning Journal, 
sent correspondents down to Cuba with orders to get 
stories about the heroism of the Cuban rebels and the 
atrocities of the Spanish rulers. 

I am sure that Walter Millis, in his book, The Martial 
Spirit, was right in saying that much of this so-called 
news was collected in Havana bars and hotel lobbies. 

This was a case where journalists were not providing 
the material for history I would feel sorry for any student 
who believed what they wrote but, nevertheless, the 
newspapermen made history. They provided the decisive 
push behind public opinion, which, in its turn, forced the 
McKinley Government into a war that need not have 

Bad journalism made Cuban-American history then, 
and bad journalism has been making it again. We have 
been seeing an intricate mechanism of news coverage and 
editorial opinion operating to create and heighten ten- 
sions and antagonisms between Cuba and the United 
States and, at the same time, building up a hostile public 
opinion which, in its turn, has brought pressure on Con- 
gress and the White House to force American policies 
into unavoidable channels. 

Of course, many other factors were operating besides 
the mass communications media. There were also the 
inexcusable distortions and misunderstandings of the 



Cuban press with regard to the United States, even be- 
fore freedom of the press was crushed in Cuba. 

In general, I think that this Cuban story represents one 
of the most fascinating and important chapters in the 
history of American journalism. It comes to me in the 
twilight of a long career when I can look back on other 
big stories in faraway places. I have worked in my time 
with just about all the important newspapermen of the 
last four decades many great ones, and many from other 
countries. I know good journalistic work when I see it, 
and I know poor work. 

I have a reputation in my profession which I value, and 
I staked it on the Cuban story. The verdict, however, is 
not one for my contemporaries to make. It will have to be 
the verdict of history, say fifty years from now, and I will 
not hear it. 

For a very long time through 1959 and 1960, 1 felt like 
Horatio at the bridge. No one else seemed to be able or 
willing to present the Cuban side of the story except those 
who went so far and so unreservedly and unrealistically 
to the Fidelista side that their testimony lost value. 

The greatest failure of the American press was its lack 
of balance and objectivity. From the time of die execu- 
tions in Cuba in the early months of 1959, the American 
press, radio and television were emotionally and over- 
whelmingly hostile. Once the label of communism was 
pinned on Fidel and his regime and this, too, was early 
in 1959 the hysteria that accompanies the American 
attitude toward communism worked its poison. 

This was not a question of sympathy or criticism, praise 



or blame. The failure was in a lack of understanding, and 
it was a tragic failure because it contributed greatly to 
the developing conflict between Cuba and the United 
States. In my opinion, it also helped to drive Fidel 
quicker and deeper into the Communist embrace. 

Fidel and his associates were always convinced that the 
reasons for the hostility toward him and his Revolution 
lay in the subservience of the American press to the State 
Department, the business interests and in the conserva- 
tism of newspaper publishers. 

We are so used to a free press that we cannot realize 
that outside of the Anglo-Saxon bloc of countries there 
is no conception of how the press operates in our type 
of democracy. This is as true of the French and Italians 
as it is of the Latin Americans. They do not understand, 
even when the press in their own countriesas in France 
and Italy is free to a very considerable extent. The press 
works differently in these countries and, especially, is 
much more easily bought and controlled by business and 
political interests. 

Our own press is not 100 per cent free, just as we do not 
have a pure and complete democracy. Everything is rela- 
tive in this imperfect world. By reasonable and practical 
standards we do have a free press, and it was not hostile 
to Cuba because it was paid to be or ordered to be* I 
don't know how often I tried to persuade Fidel and his 
colleagues of this fact. They could not believe it, partly 
because they had no genuine conception of what freedom 
of the press meant, and partly because they were so 



passionately convinced of the righteousness of their cause 
that criticism to them was immoral and evil. 

The logical conclusion of such reasoning was the sup- 
pression of criticism in Cuba. Cuban "freedom of the 
press" was always a relative matter. With some honorable 
exceptions, newspapers, magazines and journalists were 
subsidized by successive Governments, as they were by 
the Spaniards during the colonial era. This was true of the 
Batista dictatorship, as it was of preceding regimes, 

"Freedom of the press" in Cuba meant that even though 
newspapers would take money from President Batista, 
they still felt free to criticize him, so much so that he was 
compelled to keep a tight lid of censorship on the press 
during most of the period of the Castro insurrection. He 
did not and could not force the newspapers to conform 
to a single Government line, as Fidel Castro came to do. 

Fidel understood enough about freedom of the press 
to realize that he killed it in Cuba, but that does not 
mean he understands how the American press works. He 
always, and very bitterly, resented the hostility of the 
American press and he could not believe it was a sincerely 
felt, and not a directed, hostility. 

He was wrong, but there was no dissuading him. My 
own criticisms of the American press lie in other direc- 
tions. I do not doubt that many of my colleagues are 
writing what they know their publishers and readers want 
them to write, but to me the basic problem still lies in a 
failure of understanding. 

Consider the ideal qualifications a journalist required 



to understand what was happening in Cuba and, above 
all, why it was happening. 

A newspaperman ought to have had a knowledge of 
Cuba and the Cuban people, some grounding in Cuban 
history, especially the recent history of the Batista dic- 
tatorship, a knowledge of Spanish, some idea of the Latin 
American picture as a whole and (this was the most 
difficult of all) an understanding of what communism 
really is and of the mechanism of a social revolution. 

This last point is one in which I find myself in agree- 
ment with Professor C. Wright Mills, in his Listen 

**l believe another source of trouble/* he writes, <c is that 
most journalists simply do not know how to understand 
and report a revolution. If it is a real revolutionand 
Cuba's is certainly that to report it involves much more 
than die ordinary journalist's routine. It requires that the 
journalist abandon many of the cliches and habits which 
now make up his very craft. It certainly requires that he 
know something in detail about the great variety of Left- 
wing thought and action in the world today. And most 
North American journalists know very little of that variety. 
To most of them it appears as all just so much *comimi- 
nism.* Even those with the best will to understand, by 
their training and the habits of their work, are incapable 
of reporting fully enough and accurately enough the 
necessary contexts, and so the meanings, of revolutionary 
events. In aU truth, I do not know that anyone has all the 
necessary capacities; it is an extraordinarily difficult task 



for any member of an overdeveloped society to report 
what is going on in the hungry world today." 

All in all, I know of no story in my career so difficult to 
cover with understanding and competence as the Cuban 
Revolution. This has been especially true for American 
journalists who were so ill qualified to tackle the story 
when it broke. The problem was not that there were so 
few American newspapermen with all the qualifications I 
listed. Nearly all the correspondents and editors handling 
the story could not fill a single one of the qualifications. 

It was a story that began on January 1> 1959 and that 
was then interpreted in terms of our own Anglo-Saxon 
way of life and our economic and political philosophy. 

One of the most difficult tasks for a journalist, as it is for 
a historian trying to understand a past age, is to put him- 
self in the place of the other man or of the people being 
studied. The Greeks had a word for it empathy. If there 
was no feeling for the Revolution, there was no under- 
standing. The understanding couldand would leave an 
American highly critical of much that was happening, but 
only the understanding gave the right to criticize. Amer- 
ican coverage was, instead, distorted, unfair, ill informed 
and intensely emotional. 

Besides, it missed the main point of what was happen- 
ing. The French Revolution, for instance, was not simply 
the fall of the Bastille, the guillotining of a lot of people 
and the Battle of Waterloo. It was a dynamic process and 
development whose really great significance lay in its 
social and political ideas. 

The American coverage of the Cuban Revolution con- 



centrated almost wholly on executions, guerrillas, the 
seizure of American property, sabotage, communism, 
trade embargoes, diplomatic quarrels, bitter speeches 
and considerable attention to Fidel Castro's beard. 

The Cuban Revolution has not been described in the 
American mass media of communication for what it truly 
is, for its real significance in Cuba and in Latin America, 
The concentration should have been on the fact that this 
was a social revolution of great importance. Its gradual 
development toward totalitarianism and socialism is its 
most significant aspect, internally. All the other events 
connected with it the speeches, the sabotage and the like 
are news, of course, and deserve attention every day, 
even front pages, but these are the surface manifestations 
of the Revolution, What the stoiy has lacked is coverage 
in depth. 

It has been an interesting feature of the journalistic 
aspect of the Revolution, that the European newspaper- 
men did a much better job, generally, than the Americans. 
They were not prejudiced in advance, not emotional and 
they did not regard the issue of communism with the 
hysteria that characterized the American coverage. As a 
result, there has been some distinguished coverage in the 
British, French and Swiss press. 

(Incidentally, I would not want to leave the impression 
that there has been no distinguished work at all by Amer- 
ican correspondents. There has been some, but the good 
work has been done by a few and it has not made its 
mark on the ^general picture of United States coverage. ) 

American writers greatly oversimplified what was hap- 



pening. One could always say of Cuba what the Middle 
East correspondent of The Economist wrote about Iran 
this summer "Anyone who knows what is really going on 
in Persia [Iran] must be grossly misinformed." We have 
had, and still have, in the United States innumerable 
newspapermen who tell you confidently what is happen- 
ing in Cuba. They are quite sure of themselves, but if 
any situation called for humility, doubts and an open 
mind, it was the Cuban Revolution. 

I have never seen a situation so dynamic. To be away 
from Cuba for a month or two was to lose touch. The 
truth at one period would no longer hold for a later 
period. This did not make it any the less the truth when 
it was written, as so many Americans seem naively to 

In my case, for instance, a great play has been made 
of the fact that on July 16, 1959, I wrote: "This is not a 
Communist revolution in any sense of the word and there 
are no Communists in positions of control. . . . Premier 
Castro is not only not a Communist, but decidedly anti- 

It so happens that was true when it was written, and it 
will, therefore, always be true. It also happened that Fidel 
afterwards changed his mind and his policies. The truth 
in the late summer of 1961 is therefore different, and 
writing today I would write what is true today. This is the 
proper function of journalism. 

Prophecy and prediction are not its proper functions, 
although they have their fascination, A newspaperman 
calculating the course of a story like Cuba's resembles a 



businessman calculating the market. The gamble might 
or might not come off. The guesswork might be clever, 
but it will be guesswork. 

Nobody could have known in 1959 what was going to 
happen in Cuba because an extraordinary complex of men 
and forces was at work, because those who were making 
the Cuban Revolution and especially Fidel Castro were 
young, inexperienced, emotional and rash, because they 
were responding to each day's problems as they came 
along. Meanwhile, the United States was responding to its 
own complex and powerful pressures and to the vicious 
circle of provocations and reactions in both our countries. 
Add the crushing, tearing, stormy effects of the global 
cold war, which gradually engulfed Cuba, and you can 
realize that there was no safe way of predicting what was 
going to happen. 

I am not arguing that a journalist should have no opin- 
ions about what was taking place, and still less that he 
should have had no feelings or emotions or even bias 
about a story like the Cuban Revolution. This is not only 
asking the impossible; it would be bad. 

One of the essentials of good newspaper work is what 
F. Scott Fitzgerald called "the catharsis of a powerful 
emotion.'* A catharsis is the escape hatch of the emotions 
that a drama arouses. But it should be a controlled 
catharsis. It should never prevent the newspaperman 
from seeing and presenting the whole picture. 

This is not the place to analyze the press coverage of 
the Cuban Revolution in detail. 

One could begin at the very beginning when the Asso- 


elated Press, on December 31, 1958, the very night Batista 
fled, sent its famous despatch telling of a decisive Batista 
victory at Santa Clara and the rebels being driven back 
eastward. The United Press International was not doing 
much better at the time. 

However, one example of fundamental importance to 
Cuban-American relations and therefore to the course of 
the Revolution should suffice for our purposes. This was 
the treatment in the American press of the executions of 
Batistiano "war criminals" in the first few months of the 
Revolution. I have had occasion already to explain these 
executions and the psychology behind them. The slap- 
dash, summary methods used were very bad, of course, 
but the reasons for the executions, the fact that the Cuban 
people approved, that rioting and personal vengeances 
were forestalled, that Batista had killed, often after tor- 
ture, thousands of Cubans, and that something else was 
happening in Cuba a remarkable social revolution was, 
in fact, getting under way all this was virtually ignored 
in the American press. 

Lest I be accused of using Left-wing opinion or some 
special reasoning of my own on this, let me cite two of 
the most respected voices in the hemisphere on this 

Dr. Henry M, Wriston, President of the American 
Assembly, ex-President of Brown University and former 
Government official, gave an address in Colorado Springs 
on April 3, 1959, on "Revolution and the American Citi- 
zen" which sums up much of what I have been trying to 
say in this book. 



In a revolutionary situation, different rules apply. The oppo- 
sition is not a mere political competitor; often it is the enemy. 
. , . When these new governments seem to sacrifice freedom for 
"internal security," we would do well to remember our own 
Alien and Sedition Acts during the administration of John 
Adams. . . . 

It required all our political maturity and sophistication to 
treat Mikoyan [on his visit to the United States] not as the 
author of savagery in Hungary, but as the First Deputy 
Premier of a great power with whom the realities required us 
to deal. If it is so hard for us, we ought to be able to under- 
stand the over-sensitiveness of a weak, new government, 
menaced by an opposition unwilling to seek power by ballots 
and ready to resort to bullets at the first hope of success. . . . 

No one need feel regret at the overthrow of Batista. His 
tyranny was scandalously corrupt, viciously brutal. Add ad- 
verbs and adjectives to taste, and you will hardly do violence 
to the facts, Fidel Castro was everything a revolutionary should 
be: a man of good family and fortune, well educated. He aban- 
doned comfort and career to gamble his life on a military 
adventure which any knowledgeable strategist would imme- 
diately have branded as hopeless. He lived in the wilderness, 
was hunted like a wild animal; yet his own life was marked 
by unusual self-discipline. He imposed a control upon his 
followers which was astoundingly strict. He never repaid tor- 
ture with torture; he refused to copy his enemy's practice of 
killing prisoners. 

If we recall these facts, it is equally clear that after years 
of hanging on by the slenderest margin, Castro had a sudden 
success which developed enormous momentum, and ran be- 
yond his control Even so, the number of executions [of "war 
criminals"] was a fraction of the Batista murders. Despite 
procedural deficiencies, the revolutionary trials were far less 
lawless than the midnight murders of his predecessor. Yet 


nearly all American newspapers and commentators gave the 

impression that there was an orgy of blood 

Is it any wonder that Castro felt he was misunderstood? The 
plain fact is that he was misunderstood and misinterpreted in 
quarters, supposedly 'liberal," whose imaginations should have 
made them more understanding. I have used Castro as an 
illustration because events in Cuba are close at hand, recent, 
and so fresh in mind. Remember, then, that revolutions develop 
a dynamic of their own, and no one can predict Just how far 
they will go. 

At the time the executions started, Jose Figueres, ex- 
President of Costa Rica, was asked by a friend to con- 
demn the Cubans. Instead, he wrote a long letter that 
was published in the Havana press on January 22, 1959. 
He wrote in part: 

In my country, the death penalty does not exist, nor have we 
felt the need of it in this century, by good fortune. But each 
society and each historical moment has its own necessities of 
survival, which usually tend to be the least of various possible 
evils. In the present circumstances of Cuba, which I know 
quite well, severity may be a lesser evil than impunity. . . . 

No one who knew the extremes of barbarism to which the 
recent tortures in Cuba, Venezuela and other "republics" have 
gone, will be able to deny in conscience that the corrective 
methods must be extreme. . . . 

Those who today advocate that the criminals of Cuba's war 
be granted civil justice are disconnected from the circum- 
stances of the moment There is not the slightest doubt, in each 
city and each town, who were the principal assassins, . . 

If the Provisional Government does not execute the most 
noted criminals quickly, public passion will overflow, outraged 
at the impunity or the delay, and then the number of dead will 
be many, many thousands. 



It was astonishing and exasperating to me that Amer- 
icans could not see these obvious facts. I know of no one 
in the American press corps who understood what was 
involved or, if he did understand, who was able to present 
a proper interpretation to his readers. This was the time 
January 22 when I went before the Overseas Press 
Club and first said that 1 had never in my career seen a 
big story so badly handled. 

The next week I wrote an article explaining my point 
of view for the house organ of the O.P.C. 

"Tito good and the bad make up the picture/' I ended. 
""The distortion and falsity of the Cuban coverage, in my 
opinion, came because the whole truth was not presented 
and because a small part of the truth was presented in a 
twisted, inadequate., misleading way." 

From that time on I was making myself unpopular with 
my colleagues, 1 thought then, and I still think on the 
whole, that one of the worst jobs of coverage of the 
Cuban Revolution was being done by Time magazine. I 
said so publicly and wrote a strong letter to one of its 
top editors in May, 1959, saying I thought their coverage 
was slanted deliberately to present the most unfavor- 
able picture possible of the Revolution. Their coverage 
was also inaccurate, which will not surprise any profes- 
sional newspaperman who knows how Time operates. 
It has first-rate correspondents who send straightforward 
copy, arid 1 axn sure this would have been the case with 
Cuba in the early weeks, but what correspondents send 
and what comes out in the magazine are two different 


I am not saying that the other news weeklies were 
appreciably better. Time happens to be the most widely 
read of all United States news publications and it has 
more influence on the people of the country as a whole 
than any other publication, even The Times, which hits 
a much higher intellectual and official level. Conse- 
quently, what Time printed about the Cuban Revolution 
was of considerable importance. This is why I feel it 
requires discussion. 

A delightful description of Times methods, given just 
at this period March 4, 1959 came in a speech made by 
John (TRourke, Editor of the Washington Daily News. 
He referred to unhappy experiences he and John S. Knight, 
Publisher of the Knight Newspapers, had just had with 

"I have met an astonishing number of people who have 
had experiences similar to those of Mr. Knight and my- 
self/' OHourke said. "It leads me to think that perhaps 
we are taking the wrong approach as we read Time. 

''Time lives, I find, in a higher keyed, wittier, more 
brightly colored world than the real world I am forced to 
inhabit. Therefore, I enjoy Time. It is nice to escape once 
a week from mundane reality and gaze at the wild, im- 
probable place around me, through Time's kaleidoscop- 
ically colored glasses, 

"Mr. Chairman, there are many forms of fiction. There 
is historical fiction, called the historical novel There is 
the fiction called science fiction. Why not news fiction?" 

Time took its revenge on me or did its best to in an 
article under its section "The Press" on July 27, 1959. 



<c lii already choosing sides in Cuba's conflict/* Time 
wrote among other things, "Herb Matthews, 59, was fol- 
lowing a well established pattern." 

It then went on to say how in a trip to the Orient in 
1929 I **felt more sympathy toward the Japanese than the 
Chinese," how I supported the Italians in the Abyssinian 
War, how I was a "partisan for the Communist-backed 
Loyalist forces'* in the Spanish Civil War, leading to my 
sins in the Cuban Revolution. A photograph was printed 
of me standing with Faustino P6rez and Liliam Mesa 
( who had taken me and my wife to Oriente Province for 
the original interview with Fidel Castro). There was a 
sneering caption. 

Allowing for the customary mistakes, distortions and 
quotations out of context mixed into the article, what 
might have interested Time readers was that every word 
"exposing"' me was taken from my own books, chiefly 
The Education of a Correspondent. 

This is my main reason for citing Time, among a host 
of critics of my Cuban work. A newspaperman, like any 
other man, lives to learn. Moreover, he will make his quota 
of mistakes. In nearly forty years of newspaper work I 
have written millions of words. If I had not made errors 
I would be a calculating machine, not a journalist. 

The important thing is to correct the errors when they 
arc brought out. Beyond that, what matters is to give all 
the facts, whether they support one's point of view or not, 
and if a situation changes to describe the changes. These 
are basic tenets of journalism, by my credo, and no one 


can say that I have not followed them throughout my 

Everything about my work has been open for everyone 
to see and read. When Senator McCarthy was at the 
height of his outrageous smear campaigns, he claimed 
there were many "Reds" on The New Jork Times. Con- 
sidering my record in the Spanish Civil War it would 
have seemed natural for him to pick on me. He could not 
and did not, for the simple reason that there was nothing 
to pick on. I never belonged to any Communist front 
organization, let alone any Communist group or party. I 
have considered myself a liberal, and liberalism not 
fascism, McCarthyism, John Birchism or what Senator 
Fulbright calls "Right-wing radicalism*' is the real oppo- 
site and enemy of communism. 

During this Cuban excitement, my critics and enemies 
would love to find something in my career to fasten upon 
and expose. The egregious Eastland-Dodd Subcommittee 
of the Senate Judiciary Committee has heard frequent and 
interminable attacks on me, as I mentioned before, but it 
can find nothing worse than what it would consider mis- 
taken judgments. 

Nevertheless, the attacks on meand through me on 
The Times have been and continue to be fierce. They 
are especially so from my former Cuban friends and ad- 
mirers who are now exiles in Miami. I regret the way they 
feel and wish I could find myself in agreement with men 
whom I respect like Felipe Pazos, Rufo Lopez Fresquet, 
Raul Chibds, Manuel Ray, Jos6 (Pepin) M, Bosch. 

Pepin Bosch wrote me on March 15, 1961; "To Fidel 


you are the equivalent of an army division, so winning 
you away will be quite a victory." 

All that could "win me away" are the facts, the truth, 
the real developments in Cuba, and the extent to which 
I have drawn away should be clear in this book. This 
still leaves me seeing the Cuban situation differently 
from the exiles, for I see what is good about it, how im- 
portant it is, and I retain my sympathy and, in many 
respects, admiration for Fidel Castro. 

The attitude I have taken throughout often left me 
standing virtually alone among the United States editors 
and newspapermen. I had some precious encouragement. 
Now that he is dead, I can divulge that one who stood 
by me at all times was Ernest Hemingway, as did his 
wife, Mary. My last letter from Ernest, written in the 
late summer of 1960 while he was in Spain, was to assure 
me that the reports saying he had "gone sour'* on Fidel 
and the Cuban Revolution were false, 

It Is not easy to be a dissenter in the United States in a 
highly emotional period like the present when McCarthy- 
ism has been reborn, with its special emphasis on Cuba. 

There was a passage in an article by John Strachey in 
the English magazine, Encounter, for December, 1960, 
which seemed apt to me, 

"Britain is the traditional land of dissent/* he wrote, 
"of dissent not only in its original connotation but of dis- 
sent itself: of if you will dissent for dissenfs sake. In 
this respect there seems a persisting difference between 
the mental climates of Britain on the one hand and Russia 
and America on the other. It has been well said that both 



Russia and America are 'unanimous countries/ The con- 
sensus of opinion at any one time is so strong in each of 
them that it is difficult indeed for an individual to swim 
against it." 

Allowing for the exaggerated comparison of the United 
States with Russia (after all, nobody is going to send me 
to the salt mines for dissenting) there was much truth in 
what Strachey wrote. 

The problem was a difficult one for my newspaper, and 
since the principles involved went to the heart of what 
might be called the philosophy of journalism, they deserve 

The sensational impact of my Sierra Maestra interview 
with Fidel Castro in February, 1957, set the stage. The 
problem of what to do about it came up soon after in 
connection with the coverage of the closely related 
Dominican situation in The Times. Because of the censor- 
ship there and the complete, brutal and tyrannical nature 
of the Trujillo dictatorship, we had been unable to get 
an adequate job done for a long time. Yet the Dominican 
Republic was much in the news then July, 1957 because 
of the dramatic case of the disappearance of the Columbia 
University teacher, Jesus de GaHndez, and the murder of 
Gerald Murphy, the American pilot. 

I was in a position to do the job for The Times, but it 
would have had to be a strongly personalized job. It could 
not be anything else, after the Cuban sensation, with my 
name meaning what it does in Latin American affairs and 
since I was known by Generalissimo Trujillo and all 
Dominicans as the man who was writing the editorials 



that were always so critical of Trujillo. The Dominican 
press and radio were constantly attacking me. 

The problem that The Times had to face was whether 
there were not particular cases in which a personalized 
type of journalism would be of value perhaps of great 
value to the paper. As a general proposition, I have been 
as strong an adherent of impersonal journalism as anyone 
on the staff. I always said I would have been content if 
our Times, like The Times of London, never used by-lines, 
or names of correspondents. 

I was the first one to call attention to the dangers and 
embarrassments inherent in the spectacular Cuban re- 
action to my Fidel Castro stories. I always tried to dis- 
courage every kind of manifestation, and by coincidence 
there had been a big demonstration of tribute by Cubans 
in the street in front of the Times Building at the end of 
June, 1957, while I was away. (In 1960 and 1961, as I 
have mentioned, the demonstrations were of an opposite 
nature. ) 

In the case of the Dominican story, it seemed to me that 
the paper had a remarkable opportunity if we wanted to 
take advantage of it. Had I gone to Ciudad Trujillo in 
July, 1957, or at any time thereafter, it is no exaggeration 
to say that the atmosphere would have been electrified 
The fact that I was there would have been immediately 
known, not only in the Dominican Republic, but all over 
the hemisphere. The Times could have had some articles 
afterwards that every newspaper, magazine and news 
agency in the hemisphere would have reproduced and 
commented upon. 



I did not go to the Dominican Republic, and I have 
cited the incident only as an example of the type of prob- 
lem a newspaper like The Times has in dealing with 
stories which, as in the case of Cuba, become super- 
charged with a personality factor. 

I always respected The Timess problems and under- 
stood its reasoning and the paper respected my attitude. 
There are many satisfactions in working, for The New 
Yorfc Times. None is greater than the fact that it permits 
a man to retain his integrity. 

It is a curious and paradoxical feature of The Times 9 s 
great reputation that it is based, on the one hand, on the 
impartial, objective, uneditorialized thoroughness of its 
news coverage and, on the other hand, on the work of 
individuals whose names give a special quality and fame 
to the newspaper. These men (and women, too, for I am 
also thinking of the late Anne OUare McCormick) have 
helped to make the paper great precisely because they 
possessed unique qualities. When they die or retire they 
are irreplaceable; whoever takes their places may be as 
good or better, but they will be different. 

So far as Cuba was concerned, any news story I would 
do had to have a personal angle. At the same time, the 
information I was in a unique position to get, the ideas 
that would have a special authority, the impact of my 
stories, the fact that whatever I wrote would have a 
historic value these features provided journalistic assets 
that might or might not have outweighed the liabilities 
(as a newspaper like The Times would see it) of a special, 
individual imprint. 



Competent men, having no involvement, can do a 
technically adequate job in sucli circumstances, and, of 

course, the reader would never know what he missed. 
The editors would have nothing to worry about. No one 
would complain about what was printedor praise It, 
cither, for that matter. The danger to a newspaper in 
playing safe lies in discouraging individual initiative and 
penalizing a correspondent for the results that inevitably 
follow the performance of dramatic, or especially out- 
standing, work. This The Times naturally does not want 
to do. 

The principle at stake from The Timers point of view 
(and it would apply to all newspapers with similar stand- 
ards) is that the news columns not the editorials, of 
course should be kept as neutral, impartial and objective 
as possible. We do our best to keep editorializing out of 
the news. When a correspondent becomes personally in- 
volved in a situation, his stories are bound to have a spe- 
cial coloration. 

My argument on that score and I began arguing back 
in the Abyssinian and Spanish Civil Warsis that all 
correspondents are human, and being human, cannot 
help having a bias. If a man's work is rejected or dis- 
trusted for that reason, one would also reject the only 
things that really matter honesty, understanding, com- 
passion and thoroughness. A reader has a right to the 
truth and to all the facts, to the best of the writer's ability 
to find them; he has no right to expect or demand that a 
correspondent agree with him. 

Charles Pelham Curtis, Jr., the distinguished Boston 



lawyer, put the problem in better words than I could in 
his A Commonplace Book. 

"There are only two ways to be quite unprejudiced and 
impartial/' he wrote. "One is to be completely ignorant. 
The other is to be completely indifferent. Bias and prej- 
udice are attitudes to be kept in hand, not attitudes to be 

There were frequent occasions during the Cuban in- 
surrection and since Fidel Castro's triumph when the 
American press did not get stories because there were 
no correspondents close enough to the men and events 
to find out what was happening. One example of many 
was the illness of Fidel Castro in the summer of 1960. 
The American press indulged in the wildest speculations, 
whereas anyone like myself, who would have been in 
personal contact with Fidel or his entourage, could have 
ascertained the truth easily and quickly. 

Another important problem for a newspaper is that even 
though the editors would know and trust the work of a 
correspondent, a number of readers would be suspicious. 

There has also long been an unresolved conflict on The 
Tira0s~and I suppose on other newspapersabout letting 
editorial writers contribute to the news columns. It is a 
little like the problem of permitting intelligence agents 
to gather information for an operation. The tendency for 
an editorial writer might be to get or to send information 
that would fit an editorial line. 

As with all these arguments, it depends on the indi- 
vidual. Working for a big institution like The Times is 
not unlike working for the Government, It is hard to 


assert one's individuality and not to be merged with the 
smoothly working mass as it rolls forward day by day. 
Yet the "good, gray Times" has long ceased to be "gray," 
except to those who do not know how to read a newspaper 
or whose prejudices make them color blind. 

All the same, there are, and there no doubt have to be, 
limits. The Times has a style, a pattern and a respon- 
sibility that impose certain restraints. And if the man gets 
bigger than the paper in a certain field or in a certain way, 
or looms too large on the smoothly rolling horizon, there 
is uneasiness. 

The maverick can be a fine animal, welcomed, ad- 
mired, appreciated but an embarrassment and a worry 
at times. However, the owner does not get rid of such a 
maverick; he might even treasure him, 

At the height of the controversy over my role in the 
Cuban story, and at a time when Americans had reached 
the peak of hysteria about Fidel Castro and the Revolu- 
tion, word got around that I had been forbidden by The 
Times to write anything more about Cuba. C. Wright 
Mills put this in his best seller, Listen Yankee. There were 
many whose wishful thinking led them to believe a wide- 
spread report that I had been discharged. I have deliv- 
ered many lectures on the Cuban situation, mostly at 
colleges and universities, and I hardly recall any place 
where I was not asked why I was no longer writing on 

The answer to that question was simple. I am an editor, 
I would point out. While our editorials are the anonymous 
expression, of the newspaper's opinion, it was divulging 



an open, secret to say that except when I was away from 
New York or having my days off, I have written all the 
editorials in The New York Times on Cuba. If The Times 
had not trusted me to do them and accepted my opinion 

as I accepted the newspaper's traditions and respon- 
sibilities, I would not still be on The Times. But, then 
The Times would not be the great institution that it 
remains if it did not show loyalty to its staff, as it always 

Having said that, I want to repeat my point, modesty 
aside. Newspapermen are not turned out like Fords on an 
assembly line at least, not the top-flight ones. They are 
unique works of art, not cogs in a machine. When they go, 
others come along to do just as good or better work, but 
it will be different work. 

The fact that my work has always been recognizably 
mine has been a source of pride to me, as it has been 
both an asset and an embarrassment to The Times. Those 
looking back on the coverage of the Spanish Civil War in 
The Times will see me and so it will be with the Cuban 

The criticisms and the smears one receives for doing con- 
troversial work on controversial events are easy to take. 
They almost always come from those emotionally involved 
on one side or the other ( and I respect such criticism ) or 
from the ignorant, the crackpots, the knaves, the re- 

I consider it almost an honor to be attacked by the 
Eastland-Dodd Committee, by writers like the columnist 
George Sokolsky and William Buckley of the National 



Review, by publications like The American Legion Maga- 
zine and tlie Brooklyn Tablet. If sucli people did not 
attack me I would feel that there was something wrong 
with my work. 

In my day 1 have been accused of taking Fascist gold 
and Moscow gold. When I went back to Cuba after the 
Castro interview in 1957 there were two contradictory 
slanders being circulated in pro-Batista circles. One was 
that I was being paid by ex-President Prio Socarras, then 
in Miami. 1 believe the figure of $100,000 was mentioned. 
The other was more subtle. It was that I was writing 
editorials and articles harmful to Batista in order to in- 
duce the President to pay me a great sum to stop doing 

The extraordinary thing about slanders of this type is 
that so many people believe them, or have a gnawing 
doubt that there may be a grain of truth in them. Cubans 
do not have a high opinion of their own newspapermen. 

Pity the poor Latin American dictatorl It is baffling 
for men like Per6n of Argentina, F&rez Jimenez of Vene- 
zuela, Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, Batista of 
Cuba, who believe that every man has his price and who 
have no grasp of the concept of a free and independent 
press* to have to sit back helplessly when a newspaper of 
the power and influence of The New Jork Times con- 
sistently attacks them. 

When I was in Cuba in June, 1957, someone said to 
me; "Batista would gladly give Mr. Sulzberger (our 
Publisher) $1,000,000 if you would go home and stop 
writing articles arid editorials about Cuba/' 



Of course General Batista would have paid that and 
much more if he could have silenced The Times, and it 
would have been worth every penny of it to him. Natur- 
ally, he was too intelligent to try. 

The late Generalissimo TrujiUo, who did not have the 
slightest scruple about assassinating those who annoyed 
him and he killed some men with impunity in the United 
Stateswould undoubtedly have taken an exquisite pleas- 
ure in getting me killed. It would not have paid him. 

Curiously enough, dictators (and I have been up 
against many of them in my career) are almost always 
sensitive to criticism. As I said, one can almost sympathize 
with them because in these cases they axe dealing with 
ideas they cannot grasp and forces outside their control. 

Those of us who work for The New York Times use 
arms that, metaphorically speaking, are the equivalent of 
nuclear bombs. An editor in Oshkosh or Peoria or Ashe- 
ville could be the most brilliant editorial writer in the 
world with the most expert knowledge of Latin American 
affairs, and it would not matter much what he wrote or 
if he did editorials on the area every day. 

The Times is the most powerful journalistic instrument 
that has ever been forged in the free world. It is not the 
mouthpiece of the State Department, nor a "semi-official 
organ/' as so many people believe. It is an independent 
institution and those who work for it, especially we editors 
who give expression to its opinions, have a sobering 

I was always conscious of that responsibility in the case 
of Cuba. On June 18, 1957, when I came back from a visit 



to Havana where I wrote some news articles, I circulated 
a memorandum to the Publisher and editors. 

"As a postscript to my Cuban trip/' I wrote, "I would 
like everyone to understand that we have both an extraor- 
dinary opportunity and responsibility, and also an extraor- 
dinary problem in handling the subject in the news 
columns and on the editorial page. Certainly, I have been 
up against nothing comparable in my career and it is 
really no exaggeration to say that the role we have been 
playing since February is of far greater importance to 
Cuba than that of the State Department The articles on 
Fidel Castro and the Cuban situation which I did in 
February have literally altered the course of Cuban his- 
tory, and the job I have just done has also had a sensa- 
tional impact on Cuban affairs. As I am sure you realize, 
the earlier articles and our editorials also were primarily 
responsible in ending the diplomatic career of Ambassador 
Arthur Gardner and in changing the State Department 
policy toward Cuba. [Not for long, let me insert as an 

"I have insisted to aU Cubans I met, and I will always 
insist, that the job we did was a purely journalistic one. 
It consisted in the legitimate procedure of throwing a 
searchlight on a situation that the dictatorship has been 
trying to keep in the dark. However, as is always the 
case, when the truth hurts it affects a political situation 
profoundly, and this is what has been happening in 

**At the same time I believe that because of the truly 
extraordinary effect of anything that I do or anything that 



we print editorially on Cuban affairs at this extremely 
critical moment, we must be very careful to remain within 
the bounds of strict journalism. I believe we must not go 
out of our way at any time to write things about Cuba 
which are not called for by the requirements of the news 
situation and legitimate comment. . . . 

"I think we can feel proud of the extraordinary power 
which The New York Times possesses in a situation like 
this, but just because we have that power we also have a 
responsibility that must be carefully considered at every 

So it was. As my career draws to its close, I say now 
what I have said from the beginning. Nothing matters 
more than the search for truth and its complete expres- 
sion. The journalist can say with the Psalmist: "J u< % e me > 
O Lord . . . according to mine integrity." 

The truth is to be found where the history is being 
made. In my long years of war corresponding what mat- 
tered, I always felt, was to be at the front, with the fight- 
ing. Those who stayed at headquarters and got the whole 
story could have the front page. It meant more to me to 
get that one little moment and place of truth, where men 
were fighting and dying and making history. 

The truth has a palpable, sentient quality when you 
live with it. Those of us who lived, and felt and suffered 
through the Spanish Civil War we know what it was. 
Now, they are writing histories of the Spanish Civil War, 
like the superb job of scholarship which the young Eng- 
lishman, Hugh Thomas, has done. He consulted every 
document, visited all the places, spoke to whom he could. 



It is all there everything but the living truth. It is not 
the Spanish Civil War; it is the history of the Spanish 
Civil War. 

There are those who are already writing history about 
the Cuban Revolution, reading the documents, what Fidel 
Castro said one day and Che Guevara another, adding 
them together like an accountant toting up a column of 

"What is history?" a modern Pontius Pilate might well 
ask. Those of us who live with history and try to relate 
it know how inaccurately it is chronicled when it happens, 
how much of it is colored by the point of view, how many 
different truths there are, what a complicated world we 
live in. 

One makes mistakes, but they will be corrected by time. 
The truth that one relates will endure* Those who come 
after cannot take from us the reality of having lived the 
events lived the Cuban Revolution as those who made it 
lived it* 

Ralph Vaughan Williams, the composer, once wrote: 
"Whether my music is good or bad, it is always honest, 
and by that I mean I could not put down on paper a line 
which I did not first feel in. every part of me.* 

Hie only monument I want to leave on earth is for 
some student years from now to consult the files of The 
New Yorfc Times for information about the Spanish Civil 
War, the Cuban Revolution, or other events and places, 
and find my by-line, and know that he can trust it. 



Agromonte, Roberto, 233 
Agrarian reform, 111, 173-4, 176- 

8, 180, 196, 213, 233 
Alden, Robert, 56 
Almeida (or Ameda), Juan, 35, 

American economic interests, 56, 

71, 92, 208, 234, 23(3-7, 242, 

246-7, 250-1 
American Embassy, 20, 49, 74, 

116, 178, 238 
American Legion Magazine, The, 


Arbenz, Jacobo, 124-5 
Arciniegas, German, 148-9 
Argentina, 82, 90, 95, 109, 196 
Arms: to Castro from U.S., 35, 85- 

6, 146, 151-2; to Batista from 

U.S., 38, 82, 85-6 
Arvey, Jake, 87 

Berle, Adolf, 221, 256 
Betancourt, Romulo, 156, 191 
Bissell, Richard, 253, 256 
Bogota Charter, 140-1, 194, 198, 

207, 217, 251, 267 
Bogotazo, 139, 140-3 
Bohemia, 193 
Bolivia, 185, 258 

Bonsai, Philip W., 179, 233, 247-8 
Bosch, Jos6 M., Ill, 298-9 
Boti, Regino, 43 
Bowles, Chester, 213, 214, 255 
Bravo, Victor, 43 
Brazil, 108-9, 196, 199, 251, 272 
Brooklyn Tablet, 307 
Buck, Antonio, 62 
Buck, Luis, 179 
Buckley, William, 44, 306 
Bundy, McGeorge, 256 
Burke, Axleigh, 256 

Batista, Fulgencio, 16, 19, 27, 28, 
48, 53, 63, 64, 66, 77, 84, 87-8, 
113, 138, 237, 243, 307; per- 
sonal history, 54-9 

Belt, Guillermo, 143 

Bender, Frank, 253-4 

Benltez, Jaime, 61-2, 67, 105, 152, 

Bergguist, Laura, 128 

Cabell, C. P., 172 
Camus, Albert, 99 
Cardenas, Lazaro, 248 
Castillo Armas, Carlos, 124 
Castro, Fidel, 133-83; use of pub- 
licity, 16, 37, 154, 167-8, 286; 
reported death of, 16, 18, 27, 
31; personality (charisma), 16, 
36, 98, 136, 151, 191; family 


Castro, Fidel Continued 

history, 29, 137; physical char- 
acteristics, 36; early idealism, 38, 
60, 78, 95, 110, 126, 145, 163, 
210; attitude toward U.S., 38, 

73, 84, 109, 143, 168, 178-9, 
191, 232, 238, 247; revolutionary 
program, 78-80; attitude to Com- 
munism, 96-7, 116, 118-23, 125, 
127-8, 172, 251; totalitarian- 
ism, 114-5, 1534, 197; marriage 
and family, 157-8; speeches, 157, 

Castro, Raul, 17, 36, 42, 65, 74, 
75, 78, 99, 116, 120, 125, 129, 
145, 238; attitude to Commu- 
nism, 74, 125 
Casuso, Teresa, 146-7 
Caudillos (see "PersonaKsm") 
Censorship, 15, 28, 31, 84, 193, 

Central Intelligence Agency, 62, 

74, 77, 86, 110, 116, 124, 125, 
159, 172, 249, 253, 254, 257 

Chapman, Charles E,, 56-7 
Chester, Edmund, 45, 48-9 
Chibiis, Raul, 144, 178, 257, 298 
Chicago Tribune, 84, 134, 142 
Chile, 109, 196, 199, 222 
China, 101, 108, 150, 217, 218-9, 

223, 224, 258, 262, 265, 267, 

274, 276 

Chom6n, Faure", 43, 75 
Cienfuegos, Carnilo, 65, 78 
Civic resistance, 41, 43, 61, 67, 77, 

117, 210 
Class structure, 95, 102-3, 106, 

Colombia, 82, 90, 95, 139-41, 191, 

Columbia Broadcasting System, 45, 


Commonplace Book, A (Curtis), 

Communist activities, 46, 51-3, 77, 

78, 80, 96, 100, 108, 116, 118- 

23, 25, 127, 130, 218, 223-7, 

259, 275 
Coronet, 81 

Costa Rica, 78, 100, 124, 156, 199 
Curtis, Charles Pelham, Jr., 303-4 

del Pino, Rafael, 141-3 

Diaz Tamayo, Martin, 48 

Dillon, Douglas, 198, 217, 256 

Directori Revolucionario 3 43, 75 

Dominican Republic, 192, 300-2 

Dortic6s, Osvaldo, 178 

Draper, Theodore, 151-2, 161, 249, 


Drucker, Peter F., 204 
Dubois, Jules, 84, 134, 142 
Dulles, Allen, 124, 125, 253, 256 
Dulles, John Foster, 68, 71, 124, 


Eastland-Dodd Subcommittee of 

the Senate Judiciary Committee, 
67, 69-71, 72, 139, 298, 800 
Echevarrfa, Jose* Antonio, 43 
Economist, The, 196, 290 
Economy, 111, 203-9, 212-6 
Education of a Correspondent, The 

(Matthews), 88, 297 
Egypt (U.A.R.), 73, 101, 122 
Eisenhower, Dwight D., 68, 86, 
101, 115, 160, 217, 222, 220, 
231, 237, 238, 249, 250, 252, 
256, 272 
Elections, 40, 78, 83 



Eliccr Gaitdn, Jorge, 141-2 
El Pats, 138 
El Salvador, 195 
El Ttempo, 148 

Encounter, 161, 299 
Espin, Vilma, 23, 64 
Estrada Palma, Toinas, 54, 57 

Exiles, 110, 252, 254, 257 

Fajardo, Manuel, 173, 181 

Federal Bureau of Investigation, 

116, 179 

FEU (see Student University Fed- 
eration ) 

Fidel Castro (Dubois), 142 
Fidolismo, 185, 189, 192, 194-5, 
196, 199, 202, 207, 211, 216, 
22S-4, 225-7, 233, 266, 268, 
270, 275, 277 

Figueres, Jose, 124, 156, 191, 294 
Fisher, H. A. L., 98-9 
Franco, Francisco, 180, 258 
Freedman, Emanuel R,, 21 
Frente Revoludonario Democrdtico, 

Fulbright, William, 255, 298 

Gardner, Arthur, 20, 49-50, 60, 

66-9, 84, 309 
Goldwater, Barry, 264 
Gomez, Mskimo, 16, 18 
G6mez Wanguemert, Jose* Luis, 43 
Good Neighbor Policy, 242, 264, 


4< Granma, The," 17, 25, 30-1 
Grau San Martin, Ramon, 55, 94, 

113, 257 

Guant&namo Naval Base, 71, 266 
Guatemala, 128-5, 195, 252, 267 
Guerra de Guerillas, La (Guevara), 


Guerra Matos, Felipe, 26 

Guevara, Ernesto (Che), 17, 42, 
65, 76, 78, 80, 99, 103, 116, 120, 
125, 126, 128-9, 170, 217, 222, 
227, 238, 275 

Gutierrez Menoyo, Eloy, 75 

Haiti, 191, 192 

Harpers Magazine, 204 

Hart, Armando, 23, 62, 238 

Havana Post, 49, 87, 134 

Havana Times, 19, 193 

Hearst, William Randolph, 283 

Hemingway, Ernest, 44, 88, 299 

Hernandez, Melba, 144 

Herter, Christian, 213 

Hill, Robert C., 72 

History of the Cuban Republic, 

The (Chapman), 57 
History of Europe, A. (Fisher), 98 
Hoffman, Wendell, 45 
Honduras, 195 
Hull, Cordell, 235 

Institutional Revolutionary Party 

(PRI), 126 

Inter- American Defense Board, 85 
Inter-American Press Association, 

134, 193 
Invasion of April 1961, 194, 230, 

232, 235, 252-6, 259, 276-7 

John Birch Society, 100, 123, 219, 


John XXIII, Pope, 107 
Journalism, role of, 16, 63, 66, 81, 

89, 115, 119, 135, 165, 167, 

192-3, 225, 281-311 



Karol, K. S., 130 

Kennedy, John F., 58, 107, 115, 
150, 189, 190, 198, 208, 212, 
213, 215, 217, 225-6, 231, 253, 
254, 256, 259-61, 262, 264, 269, 

Khrushchev, Nikita, 150-1, 224, 
228, 235, 260, 261, 262, 263, 
265, 275 

Knight, John S., 296 

Kronenberger, Louis, 278 

La Prensa, 193 
Lemnitzer, Lyman, 256 
Lenin, Nicolai, 99, 130 
Lippman, Walter, 235, 248 
Listen 'Yankee (Mills), 287, 305 
Lleras Camargo, Alberto, 191, 220 
Look Magazine, 128 
Lopez Fresquet, Rufo, 257, 298 
L'Unitd, 161 

McCar&yism, 73, 100, 123, 219, 

298, 299 

McCoraiick, Anne O'Hare, 302 
McNamara, Robert, 256 
Machado, Gerardo, 57, 59, 63, 94 
Marinello, Juan, 51-2 
Marshall, George C., 139, 142 
Marti, Jose, 55, 80, 245 
Martial Spirit, The (Millis), 283 
Martinez Marques, Guillenno, 133- 

Maixism, 126, 128, 172, 201, 202, 

218, 222 

Matos, Huber, 127, 129, 154-5 
Matthews, Freeman (Doc), 69 
Matthews, Herbert, 44, 46, 50, 133 
Matthews, Nancie, 19, 24, 32 
Mesa, Liliam, 22, 24-7, 62 

Mexico, 17, 25, 29, 109, 126, 146, 

185, 196, 199, 207, 248, 251 
Middle-class, 26, 67, 187, 188, 

196-7, 202, 210 
Military Intelligence Service (SIM), 

60, 62, 64 
Millis, Walter, 283 
Mills, C. Wright, 160, 287, 305 
Mir6 Cardona, Jose, 98, 178, 259 
Monroe Doctrine, 188, 227, 261-4 
Montero, Dolores, 62 
Montevideo Conference, 207, 212, 

215, 217 

Morales Carri6n, Arturo, 245 
Morgan, William A., 76 
Movimiento Revolucionario del 

Pueblo, 254 
Munoz Marin, Luis, 156, 191, 248 

Nasser, Gamal Abdel, 122 

Nationalism, 28, 79, 93, 100-1, 109, 
120, 131, 170, 202, 229-30; 
socialistic tendencies, 80, 101, 
117; anti- American tendencies, 
28, 93, 95, 189, 240-4 

National Bank of Cuba, 18 

National Review, 44 

Negrin, Juan, 125 

Negroes, 54, 113-4 

New Leader, 161 

New Statesman, 130 

New York Herald Tribune, 46 

New York Post, 137-8 

New York Times, The, 15, 19, 21, 
24-7, 41, 44, 46, 47, 49, 56, 
61, 68, 65-6, 69, 77, 80, 81-2, 
115, 116-17, 135, 147-8, 149, 
183, 193, 197, 213, 245, 272, 
281-2, 296, 298, 300-11 

Nicaragua, 90, 191, 267 

Nitee, Paul, 256 



Nixon, Richard M., 134, 237, 240, Prio Socarras, Carlos, 55, 113, 140, 

249, 253, 256 257, 307 

Novins, Stuart, 119 Puerto Rico, 156 

Nunez Jimenez, Antonio, 173, 177- 

8, 181 

Quadros, Janio, 108 

Odria, Manuel 82 

Organization of American States, 

173, 179, 192, 193-4, 198, 212, 

213, 264 

O'Rourke, John, 296 
Ortodoxo Party (Partido del Pueblo 

Cubano), 144 

Pais Garcia, Frank, 23, 64, 65 

Panama, 192, 195 

Paraguay, 191, 195 

Pareto, ViHredo, 126 

Pariido Socialist* Popular, 51, 118 

Pawley, Ed, 72 

Paxes, Felipe, 18, 21-2, 103, 178, 

257, 298 
Pazos, Javier, 18-19, 21-3, 24-6, 

42-3, 62 
P&ez, Faustino, 18-19, 21, 23, 24- 


P^rez Cisneros, Caridad, 43 
P<rez Jimenez, Marcos, 82, 86, 268, 


Perez Seraates, Enrique (Arch- 
bishop of Santiago), 30, 41, 144 
Peron, Juan, 63, 82, 87, 125, 192, 


"Pcrsonalism," 99, 104, 106, 164 
Peru, 82, 90, 95, 195, 251 
Philips, Euby Hart, 19-20, 24, 43, 

63, 87 

Platt Amendment, 57, 94, 242 
Portugal, 100, 199, 258 
Powell, Adam Clayton, 156-7 

Radio Rebelde, 174 

Ray, Manuel, 254, 257, 298 

Rebel, The (Camus), 99 

Respuesta (Batista), 48-9 

Reston, James, 245 

Revolution, 79 

Roa, Raul, 178, 238 

Rodriguez, Rafael, 52, 120 

Rodriguez, Rene, 18, 21, 26 

Rojas Hnilla, Gustavo, 82 

Roman Catholic Church, 67, 179- 

80, 197 
Roosevelt, Franklin D., 101, 242, 


Rostow, Walt Whitman, 99 
Rubottom, Roy R., 72-3 
Rusk, Dean, 226, 235, 256, 259, 


Ssinchez, Celia, 60, 64, 158-9, 173- 

Santamaria, Haydee, 23, 144 

Sarria, Pedro, 41, 145 

Sartre, Jean Paul, 247 

Saumel, Pedro and Ena, 26, 42 

Schlesinger, Arthur, Jr., 92, 255- 

Scott, Edward, 19-20, 43, 49, 87 

"Second Front," 75 

Senate Internal Security Subcom- 
mittee, 50, 172 

"Sergeant's Revolt," 57, 59 

Sevareid, Eric, 137 



Shepherd, Lemuel C, ? 85 
Sflvert, K. H., 185 
SIM (see Military Intelligence Serv- 
Smith, Earl E. T., 68-72, 77, 81, 

84, 134 

Smith, Sir Norman, 141, 142, 143 
Smith, Robert F. 240, 268 
Social and Economic Frontiers in 

Latin America (Stark), 112 
Sokolsky, George, 306 
Somoza, Luis, 164 
Sori Marin, Humberto, 233 
Sourwine, J. G., 69-70 
Soviet Union, 73, 96, 1QO S 108, 

125, 150, 218-19, 224-5, 228, 

235, 249, 251, 260, 261-5, 267, 

275, 276 

Spain, 100, 125, 191, 199 
Stark, Harry, 112 
tSate Department, U.S., 60, 63, 

68-9, 70, 77, 80, 81, 82-3, 87, 

92, 116, 124, 233, 239, 261-2, 

Stevenson, Adlai, 15, 105, 115, 

205, 223, 255 
St. George, Andrew, 81 
Strachey, John, 299-300 
Student University Federation 

(FEU), 43, 140 
Sugar quotas, 92-3, 130, 238, 46- 

7, 250-1 

Sukberger, Arthur Hays, 116, 307 
Szulc, Tad, 197 

Taber, Robert, 45 
Tabexnilla Palmeros, Carlos, 85 
Tahnon, J. L,, 108 
Tannenbaum, Frank, 229 
Thomas, Charles S,, 86-7 
Time Magazine, 64, 295-7 

Trade-unions, 77, 121, 214 

Tro, Emilio, 139 

Trotsky, Leon, 101 

Trujfflo, Rafael, 140, 191, 192, 

Turbay, Julio Cesar, 216 

Twenty-sixth of July Movement, 
16, 38, 64, 79, 117, 121, 126-7; 
origin of, 21, 30, 144-5; execu- 
tions by, 135, 155, 157, 160, 
165-6, 232, 294 

Ubico, Jorge, 123 

Uni6n Insurrecional Revolucion- 

aria, 189 

United Fruit Company, 123, 136-7 
"United Party of Cuba's Socialist 

Revolution," 126-7 
United Press International, 49, 292 
United States md Cuba, The 

(Smith), 240, 268 
Urrutia Leo, Manuel, 64, 154 
Uruguay, 100, 199 

Varona, Gonzalo de, 43 
Venezuela, 78, 82, 90, 95, 152, 
156, 196, 199, 207, 250, 268-9 
Verdcja Neyra, Santiago, 46 

"White Paper," 92-3, 116, 162-3 
Wieland, William, 70, 72-3 
Wriston, Henry M,, 292 

Yugoslavia, 101 
Zayas, Alfredo, 57 


(continu. ' from front 

and Batki.t. was overthtxn- i Kingly 

became the subject of coalrov.. Wash- 
ington, as If he were somehow pH'simally 

sponsible for the Cuban Revolution and the 

'Tlancy of Fidel Castro. **I wish 1 could 

it I was responsible for the Cuban 

'a," he remarks wryly. "It would 

K - ; a very different revolution." 

But ".:] , \iatthews Is little concerned with 
clearing l>jr record on himself. His big con- 
ciTii is why the ("astro Revolution took place 
in tilt ! "glit of Cuban history and the history 
of United StatoH relations not only with Cuba 
but with ail Latin America, why we mis- 
understood Iho dynamics of that revolution 
and still iriLsunckvstand the causes and the 
depths of Fidt'liamo and of Latin American 
anti-Yankeeiem, why the revolution has 
taken its Leftist course, why the ill-fated 
"invasion" was bound to fail, the relationship 
of Castroism to communism, and so on. 

It is high time, Mr. Matthews says in 
effect, for the "Colossus of the North" to 
wise its estimate of the forces at work 
among its neighbors to the south. And he 
quotes a leading Latin Americanist, Professor 
K. H. Silvert: "Fidelismo challenges the 
structure of the established Latin American 
universe, its distribution of economic, social 
and political power, its accommodation with 
the Church, its set of relationships between 
the person and the world in short, its total 
self- conception.'' 

**I would not try to predict," Mr. Matthews 
concludes, "what will come of the Cuban 
Revolution or what will remain of il i only 
know that it will not die; that for all its faults 
and excesses It contains Ideals and hopes and 
aspirations for which men and women In 
Latin America will struggle. However It ends 
and all revolutions must end it will not 
have been made In vain." 

2/5 Z'oHfe Avenue South, New York 3